Friday, June 16, 2006
Bill Craddock died from doing what he loved most: fighting a fire.
Mr. Craddock, a rescue specialist with the DeKalb County Fire and Rescue Department, had a heart attack May 4 while fighting a house fire in south DeKalb County. Two strokes followed, and he died Tuesday at Emory University Hospital.
"Bill was what every fireman aspires to be — what we call a jake, a fireman's fireman," said Christopher W. Holcombe of Buford, a firefighter who worked with him at DeKalb County Fire Station 24.
"Every time the fire department asked for volunteers, Bill was out in front. He not only was a dedicated fireman but an instructor on the local, state and national level known throughout the country for his teaching of technical rescue and firefighter survival. When they teach us to be firemen, they teach us to put fires out. But things can go bad in a fire. Bill taught the best way to save ourselves in emergencies and get other firefighters out."
As a rescue specialist, Mr. Craddock could do it all, said Mr. Holcombe. He was adept at high angle rope rescue from tall buildings, confined space rescue from places like sewer pipes, trench rescue from construction sites, scuba diving rescue, swift water rescue and extrication from vehicles. "Firefighting was Bill's passion," said his wife, Shainti Craddock of Jasper. "He called it his first love."
The funeral for William Leroy Craddock II, 37, of Jasper, is 2 p.m. Saturday at First Redeemer Church in Cumming. McDonald & Son Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
The Florida native served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a helicopter mechanic, Mr. Holcombe said. After moving to metro Atlanta in 1996, he worked as a car mechanic and began volunteering with the Hickory Flat Volunteer Fire Department in Cherokee County.
In 1997 Mr. Craddock joined the DeKalb fire department and soon was going through the arduous training to become a rescue specialist. Besides his extensive teaching, Mr. Craddock worked part-time for the Forsyth County Fire Department and was an assistant chief with the Bethany-Salem Volunteer Fire Department Station 8 in Jasper.
To help unite Georgia firefighters, Mr. Craddock joined with several other firefighters in 2001 to establish the fraternity Georgia FOOLS, a branch of FOOLS International. FOOLS stands for Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society.
"It is an organization that promotes brotherhood and the traditions and lifestyle of firefighters," Mr. Holcombe said. A major part of the Georgia FOOLS agenda is teaching firemen across the state how to save people and get out safely, Mr. Holcombe added. The program has grown to numerous chapters, said co-founder Brian Gary of Forsyth County, a lieutenant with the Forsyth County Fire Department.
For fun, Mr. Craddock rode bulls in rodeos, went horseback riding with his wife and played hide-and-seek with his 4-year-old son Colby Craddock, who loved to come to his father's fire stations.
A fund for Mr. Craddock's widow and son has been set up by the DeKalb County Fire and Rescue Department. Donations to the William L. Craddock Fund can be made at any Bank of America branch. Other survivors include his mother, Gail Schueren and his stepfather, Bob Schueren, both of Epworth.
By DERRICK HENRY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/16/06
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