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Non-Traumatic Firefighter Deaths


Friday, September 7, 2007  This notice comes with great sadness, however, we must report the passing of Steven Gregory, Venture County Fire, due to job related cancer. The following is the notice from Local 1364. With deepest regret, Ventura County Professional Firefighters Local 1364 reports the line of duty death of Ventura County Firefighter Steven A. Gregory. Brother Gregory died at home on Sunday August 26, 2007 from occupational cancer. He was surrounded by his family, friends and brother firefighters at the time of his death. FOR THE FAMILY In lieu of flowers, the Gregory family is requesting donations to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, to be held Oct. 13-14 in Camarillo, CA. Sympathy cards can be addressed c/o Local 1364 Ventura County Professional Firefighters Assn. P.O. Box 385 Camarillo, CA 93011  





Friday, May 11, 2007  Nacogdoches Fire Capt. Joe Ed Ivy, passed away Saturday morning at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster, Texas, according to a press release issued by the fire department. He was in the Houston area for fire command training. Ivy died at about 2 a.m. Saturday at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster, near Houston, where he and four other captains were attending a high-rise fire training session. As captain of a ladder truck at Fire Station 1 on North Street, Ivy was training to lead firefighters into blazes that could occur at local university buildings and industrial structures. After feeling poorly, Ivy passed out about 1:30 a.m. His co-workers attempted CPR and rushed him to the hospital, according to NPD Chief Keith Kiplinger. "He was traditional old school," said Terry Westmoreland, Ivy's cousin and Nacogdoches fire marshal, " ... the kind who came up with a lot of honor, a man's man who liked to work hard." A burly man with a handlebar moustache, Ivy joined NFD in 1973, and he rose in the ranks to become a driver and lieutenant, a position now called captain. Growing up in Cushing, he was a "phenomenal athlete," Westmoreland said, able to dunk a basketball from a flat-footed jump and a dominant hurdler on the track team. Ivy was "sharp as a tack" and enjoyed crosswords puzzles and Western novels, Westmoreland said, and he was a "real cowboy," running cattle until his age caught up with him. Along with Westmoreland, Ivy's brother, Danny, and his cousin, Ricky, also worked for NFD. "That's normal for the fire service. It's common for families to get it in the blood," said Kiplinger, who worked under Ivy in the early 1990s. In a career that involved a great amount of trust between co-workers, Ivy inspired others. His reputation as a leader and an able firefighter made him stand out to the rookies. Even as he aged, Ivy's athleticism allowed him to outwork younger firefighters, according to Dewayne Sims, a three-year NFD veteran and president of the Nacogdoches Professional Firefighters Association. "Ed was, of course, a veteran, and it was almost like hero-worship for the guys who had just been hired on," Sims said. "Everybody always knew what Ed was capable of doing. He was concrete," he said. His greatest skill was leading others into a burning building. People followed and trusted him, Westmoreland said. Ivy leaves behind a daughter, Molly, and a son, Blake, a student at SFA, as well as his brothers, Danny and Jay. "The bottom line is that when you think of a professional firefighter from the ground up, you think of this guy — strong as a bull, not afraid of anything, looked out for others," Westmoreland said. "We all try to help each other out so our guys have a chance to mourn," Kiplinger said.  





Friday, March 23, 2007  The Crowley (LA) Fire Department has had a line of duty death Saturday morning. Captain Dale Breaux died of a hearth attack after a extrication incident on I-10 late Friday night. Visitation will begin Monday morning at 11:00 AM with burial to follow Tuesday at 1:00 PM. Geesey - Fergerson funeral home is in charge of arrangements. Captain Breaux was 60 years old and served Crowley Fire Department for 24 years. (Posted 3-19-07)  





Wednesday, March 7, 2007  Firehouse.Com News NEW HARTFORD, N.Y.-- The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control has reported the line of duty death of Firefighter Michael D. Sowich. He died March 2 while attending a training program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. According to the USFA, Sowich passed away in his dorm room from a cause still to be determined. Sowich, 50, a volunteer of the New Hartford Fire Department also was a long time former member and training officer of Sherrill-Kenwood Fire Department and served as a state fire instructor with the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, fire instructor with Oneida County and fire inspector with the City of Sherrill. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughter, Lisa Marie and many other relatives. Funeral Information Visitation for Firefighter Sowich will be held Wednesday, March 7 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Eannace Funeral Home, 932 South Street, Utica, N.Y. Uniformed fire personnel will gather at the conclusion of visitation hours at 8:00 p.m. Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, March 8 at 11:30 a.m. at the funeral home and at 1 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 422 Tilden Avenue, Utica, N.Y. Personnel and apparatus will stage at the New Hartford Shopping Center. Please contact the Oneida County Fire Emergency Service office at 315-765-2345 for further details  





Friday, May 12, 2006    Michael Anthony Beach SARATOGA SPRINGS - Michael Anthony Beach, of Daniels Road, passed away Monday (May 8, 2006) at his residence. He was 46.

Born on March 15, 1960, in Saratoga Springs, he was a 1979 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. Mike grew up in Saratoga Springs and truly loved his hometown. He began playing sports at a young age in the Pop Warner Football League and the city's Biddy Basketball program.

While in high school, he excelled in their football, basketball and baseball programs as well. He was an avid hunter and enjoyed the outdoors throughout his life. With a quick wit and big heart, Mike could be seen ringing a bell at Christmas, extricating someone from an automobile accident or saving a neighbor from a mouse, as he was always ready to help.

He was appointed to the Saratoga Springs Fire Department in October 1990 and retired due to duty-related illness in February 2005. He was a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 343 and served as union president in 1996-'97.

He was the grandson of the late Agnes and William Beach and was also predeceased by two uncles, Joseph and William Beach and an aunt, Mary Beach. He had many friends and family who remember him fondly and will miss him dearly.

He was the loving and devoted husband to his wife, Klare (Disser) Beach and was the adoring father to his beloved daughter, Rosie. His love will always live in her heart.

Other surviving relatives include his step-sons, Randall and Benjamin Weigner of Saratoga Springs; his mother, Joan DeFreest of Saratoga Springs; his sister and brother-in-law, Lita Avila and George Suarez; his brothers and sisters-in-law, Matt and Wendy Avila, Manny and Michele Avila; his uncle and aunts, John and Ruth Beach of Wilton and Joann Beach; many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Relatives and friends may call from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff Funeral Homes, 628 North Broadway (584-5373 or

Departmental funeral services will include a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30a.m. Saturday (May 13, 2006) in St. Clement's Roman Catholic Church, 231 Lake Avenue.

Burial will follow in St. Peter's Cemetery, West Ave.

Memorials may be made in his name to the Rose Beach Education Fund, Adirondack Trust Company, 473 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 c/o Meredith Rumpf.
Courtesy of






Tuesday, April 25, 2006  Firefighter Gary Bryant

Township of Frontenac Islands
Wolfe Island Fire Station

While attending to a grass/brush fire on Wolfe Island, Wednesday, April
19, 2006 Firefighter Gary Bryant "while in the line of duty" lost his life
as a result of a massive heart attack. In spite of the efforts of both the
Wolfe Island Fire Department and the Wolfe Island Ambulance Service Gary
Bryant was unable to be revived.

Gary died protecting the Community that he loved and doing the job that he
cared so much about.
Gary will be given a full firefighters funeral on Wolfe Island at the
"Sacred Heart Church" at 1100 hrs on Wednesday April 26, 2006.
Firefighters attending the Funeral must assemble and be prepared to catch
the 0930 hr. Ferry to Wolfe Island.

There will be a "wake" for Firefighter Gary Bryant at the Gordon F.
Tompkins Funeral Home on Colbourne St. in Kingston, Ontario, on Tuesday
April 25, 2006 from 1700 hrs to 2100 hrs.

For more information please contact the Deputy Co-ordinator, of the
Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Counties Fire Mutual Aid Association, Deputy
Fire Chief Gary Bullock at 613-548-4001 ext 5220

The funeral will take place at Wolfe Island United Church on April 26 at 11:00.  





Monday, April 3, 2006  A Georgetown County, South Carolina firefighter died Friday while on duty at Fire Station 4 in the Pleasant Hill community. An autopsy revealed that Shon Rice, 34, died of natural causes, said Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson. Rice had ongoing health issues, Johnson said. Rice joined Georgetown County Fire-Emergency Medical Services in 1992 as a volunteer firefighter, according to a statement from the fire department, and became a full-time firefighter in 2003. Rice was the father of two children, according to the statement. "He was well-respected by his fellow firefighters and EMS personnel," said Emergency Services Director Mike Mock.  





Monday, March 6, 2006   SUSAN NICOL KYLE
Firehouse.Com News 3-6-06
A volunteer firefighter in North Carolina collapsed at his home Sunday evening shortly after returning from a brush fire.

Lt. Wayne E. Yarborough, 59, had assisted the Waynesville Fire Department with a minor brush fire about an hour before he collapsed after an apparent heart attack, said Archie Shuler, an investigator with the fire company.

"He was involved with extinguishing the fire and helped package hose," Shuler said. "He was getting ready for church when he collapsed."

The volunteer lieutenant, who had been involved in the town's fire service for 38 years, would have celebrated his 60th birthday on Tuesday.

"He was a great guy. You couldn't ask for anyone better...We're all in shock. You just never expect something like this."

Yarborough is survived by his wife and two children.

Shuler said funeral arrangements have not been made.

The flag at the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial in Emmitsburg will be moved to half staff in his honor.






Wednesday, March 1, 2006  Funeral Information Below ERIC BROOKS News A longtime member of the Rio Grande Fire Company incurred a fatal heart attack in the line of duty during the evening of Feb. 23, 2006.

Robert "Ockie" Wisting, 77, had served his community as a volunteer firefighter for 51 years from 1955-2006, and led as Chief in 1965. He died of a massive heart attack outside his home less than 24 hours after responding to a smoke investigation call amid a weekly fire company drill.

"We were in complete and total shock," affirmed Rio Grande Fire Captain, Richard Sweeten. "He was the most respected man in the area, and definitely for us. He did so much here for the company. Total family man."

Wisting is the first firefighter in his area to die in the line of duty. He is survived by his wife and children, and twelve grandchildren.

The Rio Grande Fire Company issued the following funeral details in a press release:

Funeral arrangements have been made for Saturday March 4, 2006 at Radzieta Funeral Home on Hand Avenue in Cape May Court House. Viewing hours are from 9-11 AM and will be extended if needed. Following services, a procession of fire apparatus will proceed to the Rio Grande Firehouse on Rt. 47 in Rio Grande where "Ockie's Last Call" will be sounded. The procession will go the Rio Grande Cemetery on Rt. 9 where Mr. Wisting will be laid to rest. Rio Grande's antique 1950 Mack Pumper will serve as the caisson. This was a favorite truck of "Ockie's", one he rode on countless times over the years.

Any questions regarding arrangements for the Viewing and Service can be directed to Robert Sweeten, RGFC Public Information Officer at (609) 408-3966.






Wednesday, February 8, 2006  SUSAN NICOL KYLE
Firehouse.Com News
The sudden death of a Mississippi firefighter has left a void in an area still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Gary W. Kistler Sr., 65, a career firefighter with Saucier Fire Department, died Sunday, six days after he cut the tip of his finger at a wreck. The cause of death has been listed as septic infection, said Harrison County Fire Marshal George Mixon.

Kistler suffered the tiny cut during the extrication of a crash victim. "It was noted on the report. But, it was a really small scratch."

Mixon said the following day Kistler started feeling ill, and went to the doctor on Wednesday. "He was given pain medication because he said his back hurt. They also told him to do light duty for three days."

Kistler used the time to catch up on paperwork at the station where he was one of two paid daytime firefighters. "We sat around and drank coffee and talked."

On Sunday, Kistler collapsed at his home and was rushed to the hospital. He went into cardiac arrest in the emergency room. "Doctors said he was filled with septic infection," Mixon said. "We just can't believe it. How do you die from a cut finger. Everyone in the fire service has had a cut..."

Kistler, who also volunteered at the Saucier Fire Company, had more than 30 years of experience. "I would call him a fireman's fireman. He was there day and night. It didn't matter, he would come to help."

The grandfather had a special way with children, and loved showing them through the fire safety house. "That was his passion, teaching kids."

The viewing will be held his fire station at 10 a.m. Saturday. Services will begin at 11 a.m.

Mixon said the community that was nearly wiped out by Katrina has been dealt another blow, and he wonders just how much more they will have to endure.






Tuesday, February 7, 2006  By Kate House-Layton, Delaware State News     DELMAR — Delmar Volunteer Fire Co.’s motto is ‘service to others.’

The motto is printed on the fire company’s stationery and the wall in the firehouse.

It also was a mantra by which longtime fire company member Joseph Morris Sr. lived, friends said.

Mr. Morris, 62, of Delmar, died Saturday at the Delmar fire station while visiting with colleagues.

He was born in Delmar, Md., but lived on the Delaware side of town for most of his life.

Mr. Morris served the fire company for 38 years, holding every line office and serving as chief for 22 years, fire company chaplain Harry Naugle said.

Mr. Morris also was past president of the Sussex County Fire Chiefs’ Association and was training to be an instructor at the Delaware State Fire School.

“He was what I called one of the good guys,” said Kevin Wilson, president of the state chiefs’ in 2003-04.

Members of the fire company and Downstate fire fighting community were stunned and saddened by Mr. Morris’ sudden death.

“It affects many, many people, because it is a brotherhood, it is a true brotherhood,” said longtime friend and fellow fire fighter Mike Lowe.

    “What I would remember would be his dedication. No matter what transpired in Delmar’s district, Joe Morris was there unfazed.”

Mr. Naugle described Mr. Morris as very accessible, often taking younger fire company members under his wing.

“It was just a fatherly instinct,” he said.

Mr. Morris’ son, Joseph Morris Jr., who served with him in the fire company, said his father could be brash and compassionate when it came to firefighters.

He said he sometimes would spend several minutes telling a firefighter what they did wrong, but made peace with them in the end and seldom held a grudge.

The younger Mr. Morris, who also worked with his father for Norfolk Southern Railroad, said he not only lost a father but a fire chief and a boss.

“Everywhere I go, he was there,” he said.

Although his father was often gone with the railroad or serving the fire company, his family understood, his son said.

“He didn’t have a whole lot of hobbies,” he said. “His only hobby was helping others.”

His father enjoyed being a fireman and being fire chief.

    “There will never be another one like him, unless they resurrect Patton,” his son said.

“I hope when he’s looking down on me, I live up to his expectations because I never wanted to disappoint him. I always wanted him to be proud of me.”

Mr. Lowe, an instructor at the Delaware State Fire School and a member of Laurel Fire Deparment, said Mr. Morris’ passing is a significant loss to the fire fighting community because of his years of experience.

“Couldn’t be replaced,” he said.

Today, he said, it takes at least 200 hours to adequately train a firefighter, making a fireman with 38 years of service invaluable.

“He ate, slept and drank Delmar Fire Department,” Mr. Naugle said.

The chaplain said that when he thinks of Mr. Morris, he thinks of a Bible passage that says, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant.’

“He did his job well and he was good and he was faithful,” Mr. Naugle said.






Saturday, January 28, 2006  Saturday, January 28, 2006 This morning at just past 4am, the street assignment was struck on box 1233, Address of fire, 55th and Lancaster Ave. Batt-11 arrived to report a 3 stry middle of row dwelling, 16X45, with heavy fire showing from the first floor rear. He put 2 and 2 in service on the box with Ladder-13, Medic-23 as the RIT. Rescue-1 and Squad-47 also added to the box. Crews made a quick knock on the fire, as truck companies performed searches which turned out to be negative. While crews remained on scene performing overhaul, a firefighter from Engine 54, after exiting the building, collapsed in the front yard. Medic 23 worked Firefighter Tracey Champion briefly at the scene before transporting him to Lankenua Hospital in cardiac arrest with no vitals. He was pronounced at the hospital. Tracey was a 21 year veteran of the Dept. and leaves behind a wife and two children. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, May he rest in peace.  





Saturday, January 28, 2006  January 28, 2006 PHILADELPHIA -- A veteran firefighter died early Saturday after suffering a heart attack on the scene of an abandoned house fire. Officials said Tracy Champion, 49, was investigating the fire scene after it was extinguished when he collapsed. Champion leaves behind a wife and two children. Mayor John Street said the veteran firefighter gave his life to protect the public. The fire occurred in the city's Overbrook section.  





Saturday, January 28, 2006  It is with regret that the Office of Fire Prevention and Control announces the death in the line of duty of Firefighter (former Chief and life member) John Robert (Bob) Westervelt, age 57, of the Spring Valley Fire Department and life member of Rockland County Chiefs Association and Rockland County Volunteer Fireman's Association. Firefighter Westervelt died of an apparent cardiac related problem subsequent to responding to an alarm at a senior complex. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Cathy; six children, Lori and her husband Michael, Michael and his future wife Linda, Bryan, Kristin and her future husband Moe, Patrick and Kevin; his brother, Thomas; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. Calling hours will be on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 from 7:00 B 9:00 p.m. and Thursday, January 26, from 7:00 B 9:00 p.m. at the T. J. McGown Sons Funeral Home, 113 Lake Road East, Congers, NY 10920 (845) 268-6665. A firematic service is planned for Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Friday, January 26, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Paul's Church, Lake Road, Congers, NY. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of FF Westervelt and to members of the Spring Valley Fire Department.  





Wednesday, January 4, 2006  Veteran is first to die in line of duty in 2006. ............ SUSAN NICOL KYLE Firehouse.Com News January 4, 2006 Firefighter/Paramedic Richard Longoria was the man the Corpus Christie Fire Department often turned to when a rookie joined the crew. On Friday, those former rookies along with hundreds of fire and rescue personnel will pay a final tribute to Longoria, who collapsed and died Tuesday on his way home after his shift. A passing motorist called 9-1-1 after finding Longoria lying on the street about seven miles from the fire station. His colleagues, some of whom he had help train, responded. However, he was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy showed he suffered a stroke. During an earlier fire shift, he had told co-workers that he didn't feel well, said Assistant Chief Andy Cardiel. Longoria, one of the department's most senior medics, was remembered for his dedication and committment. "He never backed down from a job...We're cross-trained here, and he was a Firefighter II. He had the opportunity to get off the medic unit, he chose to stay. So, he was on it whenever he could..." Cardiel called his friend a role model. "He was happy to take young medics under his wing to show them the ropes...This is a tremendous loss..." Longoria had recently become a grandfather for the first time, and was very proud of his granddaughter. "He had talked about retiring soon, too," Cardiel said, adding that his co-worker had been with the department for about 30 years. When he wasn't at the fire station or with his family, Longoria could be found working on the USS Lexington, a decomissioned aircraft carrier docked in Corpus Christie. "He just loved that ship. He spent years and years working on it." The flags at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg were lowered to half staff today in Longoria's honor. He is the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in 2006. Visitation will be held Thursday afternoon at Seaside Funeral Home in Corpus Christie. The Rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick's Church. Related:Corpus Cristi Fire Department  




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