Is it Bull That Firefighters Might Die at Work on Any Day?

Over the course of my career and post retirement I have had more people than I can name ask me or imply that yes firefighting is a dangerous job, but you were never really at risk of death or that the idea a firefighter can die any day they go to work is kind of bull shit.

A part of me wants to agree with them. I know I only had a handful of times where I was in a close call. I had a hand gun shoved under my chin; I had a double barrel shotgun shoved in my guts by a drunk and crazed man in his underwear. I fell through a floor one time and was only saved by my airpack catching on a floor joist and a fellow firefighter that pulled me out of the hole.

My closest call was when a 15 foot tall stucco chimney fell over and crashed through the ceiling of a room I was working in. I had just enough time to push a junior firefighter out of the room and then was knocked unconscious by the falling debris.

I came to sitting on the tailboard of the ladder truck I was assigned to. I had no idea how I got there, but the driver informed me that I had emerged from the fire and he had talked me down a three story stair case. Three other brothers were also injured and we all got off pretty well intact.

I had my face piece knocked off by the impact and was unconscious for an unknown amount of time in the fire. I took a load of smoke and suffer from COPD today as a result (my smoking doesn’t help either).

So was I at risk every day? The simple answer is hell yes we are at risk every single time the bell goes off. So far this year 37 firefighters have died in the line of duty (LODD) and 83 died last year in the line of duty. I bet not one of them went to work on the day of their death thinking “Well today is the day I die”. They went to work just like every other day, probably loving that they got to go be a firefighter and thinking more about the fun they were going to have and hoping they were going to a good “Worker” that day.

Nothing better than a good working fire, a multiple alarm fire with all kinds of challenges and rescues, it doesn’t get better than that for us. I know it is sick that we call a fire “A good fire” when in fact there is no good fire for the people affected. But for us it is a good fire because we get to do “It”, we get to do what we train endlessly for, we get to fight fire.

The 37 deaths this year are varied in the many ways we die; from the 4 God bless them, their families, and their departments all, firefighters in Houston who burned to death in a collapse, 4 in West Texas blown up in an explosion and 2 more in Bryan Texas from collapse.

Firefighters have died from heart attacks while at work and the victims of this type of death range in age from 26 to 71. They have died in motor vehicle accidents, been hit by vehicles, and some just found dead in their beds from unknown causes. They range in age and experience from.

Probationary firefighter Anne M. Sullivan 24 years old and on the job for 4 months.

 

Captain George A. Turner, Jr.  60 with 30+ years on the job.

The last form of death and the one with very little coverage is at their own hands. Firefighters are killing themselves at alarming rates in America and no one really knows why.

Below is a list of the brave men and women who have died this year in service to their communities and to their fellow man. There is no doubt this list will grow not only for the rest of this year, but for as long as firefighters answer the bell.

God bless them all and thanks.

To date, 37 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2013 as a result of incidents that occurred so far in 2013.

Name:   Robert Bebee                        

Rank: Engineer Operator

Age: 41                                                  Name:   Matthew Renaud

                                                              Rank: Captain

                                                              Age: 35

Name:   Robert H. Garner

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 29

                                                              Name:   Anne M. Sullivan

                                                              Rank:   Probationary Firefighter

                                                              Age: 24

Name: Stanley A. Wilson

Rank: Fire Rescue Officer

Age: 51

                                                              Name: Albert A. Nejmeh

                                                              Rank: Firefighter

                                                              Age: 59

Name: Brian Woehlke

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 29

                                                               Name: Daniel Davidson

                                                               Rank: Firefighter

                                                               Age: 26

Name: Stanley Martin Jr.

Rank: Assistant Fire Chief

Age: 71

                                                                Name: Gene Kirchner

                                                                Rank: Firefighter

                                                                Age: 24

Name: Dale Scott Queen

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 37

                                                                 Name: Morris Bridges

                                                                 Rank: Firefighter

                                                                 Age: 41

Name: Cody Dragoo

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 50

                                                                 Name: Joseph Pustejousky

                                                                 Rank: Firefighter

                                                                 Age: Pending

Name: Douglas Snokhous

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 50

                                                                Name: Robert Snokhous

                                                                Rank: Firefighter

                                                                Age: 48

Name: Lawrence “Lance” A. Stone

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 37

                                                                Name: James B. Clark

                                                                Rank: Lieutenant

                                                                Age: 56

Name: Harold Hollingsworth

Rank: Assistant Fire Chief

Age: 47

                                                                Michael R. Goodwin, Sr.

                                                                Captain

                                                                Age: 53

Name: John M. Janos

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 57

                                                                 Name: Michael L. Broz

                                                                 Rank: Firefighter

                                                                 Age: 58

Name: George A. Turner, Jr.

Rank: Captain

Age: 60

                                                                 Name: Lonnie Nutt

                                                                 Rank: Firefighter Engineer

                                                                 Age: 49

Name: Donald Mize

Rank: Firefighter Cadet

Age: 62

                                                                 Name: Christopher Brown

                                                                   Rank: Firefighter

                                                                   Age: 39

Name: Nate Fruin

Rank: Firefighter

Age: 22

                                                                   Name: David Schnepp

                                                                   Rank: Firefighter

                                                                   Age: 43

Name: Claudia Sokol

Rank: Fire Police Officer

Age: 55

                                                                   Name: Jonathan Wayne Burgess

                                                                   Rank: Firefighter

Age: 33

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