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Each December, there are some very significant dates for the fire service, worthy of note and well worth kitchen table discussion with Firefighters-especially with the younger ones.
While we can’t cover them all, below is plenty we can all learn from and remember them and their families.
For example, the OUR LADY OF ANGELS fire anniversary (Monday, Dec 1, 1958) in Chicago where 92 kids and 4 nuns lost their lives-a day in 1958 where the heroics of Chicago FF’s were well documented.
And in that same city, Dec 22, 2010, Chicago Firefighters Corey Ankum and Ed Stringer were killed in a collapse-on the 100th Anniversary of the Union Stock Yards fire that killed 21 Chicago Firefighters.
…another Chicago Firefighter, Mashawn Plummer, 30, suffered “very critical” injuries in an early morning fire on Dec. 16, and died days later. Plummer had been in the fire department for just over one year. He was transported to Community First Hospital with severe burns, and was transferred to the Loyola University Burn Unit. He suffered burns to his airway, and required endotracheal intubation to maintain his airway. He died Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at the Loyola University Burn Unit.
VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRpHqjBlRfs
Sterling (IL) Capt. Garrett Ramos died in the Line of Duty during the early hours of Dec. 4, 2021, after the floor collapsed beneath him while fighting a mutual aid house fire in rural Rock Falls.
Dec. 28, 2015 was cold and snowy. Hamilton (Ohio) Firefighters responded to house fire about 0110 hours at 1310 Pater Ave. and rushed in to rescue the residents they believed were inside. But the arson fire had already burned from the basement, weakening the flooring above. Firefighter Patrick Wolterman fell through and died.
FIRE REPORT: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face201519.html
Every Firefighter should be well familiar with the multi LODD loss in Buffalo (NY) when 5 Buffalo FD Ladder 5 Firefighters (and 2 civilians) were killed in a propane explosion on December 27, 1983.
OUTSTANDING AUDIO INTERVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8jpqHGCJaA


And on December 20th in 1991, 4 Firefighters were killed when they were trapped in a partial floor collapse in Brackenridge, PA. Ever read that report? Here it is along with photos:


We all remember wonderful but also (and sadly), tragic events that have occurred in our lives as well.  On December 3rd of 1999, I was attending a community Christmas celebration in our town when beepers started to beep providing initial details about missing Firefighters in Worcester (MA)-and then more details-and then even more info and the final incredible details came out.
The Worcester Fire Department responded at 1813 hours that night to Box Alarm 1438 for a fire at 266 Franklin Street.(NOTE: 266 Franklin Street is now the the address and location of WFD’s E-6, E-12, L-1, R-1 and Scuba-1 quarters)
2 members of WFD Rescue 1, Firefighter Paul Brotherton and Firefighter Jerry Lucey, entered the building searching for occupants. Fire conditions worsened in the building at a rapid and unexpected rate. FF’s Brotherton and Lucey, on the fifth floor, became disoriented in the smoke-filled building. Lost, and running low on air, they called for help.
Several crews began searching for the lost Firefighters. Two crews reaching the fifth floor also found themselves disoriented in the smoke and trapped by the maze of interior walls: Lieutenant Tom Spencer and Firefighter Tim Jackson from Ladder 2, and Firefighter Jay Lyons and Firefighter Joe McGuirk from Engine 3 were now trapped. Though many more highly heroic Worcester Firefighters attempted to locate their missing brothers, their efforts proved futile.
Be sure to read the link below, entitled “A Chiefs Perspective” about WFD District (Ret) Chief Mike McNamee, who made the beyond difficult decision to end search operations for the missing members-and saved more lives by doing so.
The Line of Duty Deaths of Worcester Firefighters Paul A. Brotherton, Timothy P. Jackson, Jeremiah M. Lucey, James F. “Jay” Lyons III, Joseph T. McGuirk, and Lt. Thomas E. Spencer devastated Worcester, the Fire service, the nation and the world. Their Line of Duty deaths marked the worst loss of Firefighters’ lives in more than 20 years in a building fire in America, and the third worst fire in Massachusetts’ history. R.I.P.
HERE is the NIOSH report as well as the “must read” Esquire Magazine/Sean Flynn article:

http://www.esquire.com/features/perfect-fire-0700?click=main_sr   (Esquire Magazine)
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face9947.html (NIOSH Report)
VIDEO: Worcester 6: Heroes Remembered – Full Documentary:
VIDEO:  The Lasting Legacy of the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse Fire-NFPA
VIDEO: Interview with Worcester District Chief Mike McNamee
At 0824 Hours on Wednesday, December 22, 1999, a fire was reported in a multifamily dwelling in Keokuk, Iowa. Several neighbors phoned the Keokuk 911 center to report smoke coming from a residence, and that a woman was outside screaming that there were children trapped inside.
Keokuk Assistant Fire Chief Dave McNally, 48, Firefighter Jason Bitting, 29, and Firefighter Nate Tuck, 39 were killed while attempting the rescue of 3 trapped kids in that fire-who also perished. The 3 Firefighters left 8 kids of their own behind. The Firefighters died when a flashover occurred while the 3 were doing their search. The fire started in the kitchen of an old wooden two-story b/f home that had been converted into apartments. Staffing is a major issue in Keokuk, and that morning, 4 of the 5 total (+ the Chief) on duty firefighters arrived on scene with heavy smoke showing, and upon hearing the mother screaming that her children were trapped inside, they immediately and understandably went in after them. When “Mom” screams that her kids are inside-we go in.
The 3 were inside, (the Asst Chief and 2 FF/pump operators) a Lt. was on the hydrant-couldn’t see the building and one Firefighter was on side “A”… starting to pack up, to back the interior members up. The Chief made the terribly difficult decision to leave the scene for 3 minutes to personally transport a non-breathing rescued child–there were no other resources available… none. The hospital was a minute away. When he returned, the flashover had already occurred with only the Lt. and the one Firefighter left outside. A/C Dave McNally, FF Jason Bitting, and FF Nate Tuck perished in that duplex. R.I.P.
There are several excellent reports out on the fire:
One of the best quotes I have ever heard came from KFD’s Chief Mark Wessell, Ret,, is a good friend who has shown true leadership in taking the KFD forward-I don’t know anyone who doesn’t agree with that. Since that fire, Mark and I have become pretty close and I am continually in awe over how he has made it clear that his FD will (and has) change. Mark makes it clear that as horrible as this was-he did whatever he had to, to make sure it never happens again. To all of us, he made a statement that sums it up… “Always remember that we as firefighters are there to help people with a problem, while also doing ALL that we can to never become PART of that problem”
===West Webster, NY…”It Could Have Been Any Firefighter ..at Any FD”
When we first heard about West Webster, we couldn’t help but also remember some other Firefighters who were shot-and killed in the Line of Duty…..
–Lexington, KY, Fire Lieutenant Brenda Cowan,
–Maplewood (MO) Firefighter/Paramedic Ryan Hummert,
–Fayetteville (PA) Chief James Cutchall
–Jackson, MS Captain Stan Adams, District Chief Dwight Craft, Captain Merideth Moree and District Chief Rick Robbins, 47 …all of whom were gunned down in the Line of Duty…and there are more related murders and related close calls.
BUT ON DECEMBER 24, 2012, IT WAS WEST WEBSTER, NY….it was a call, on Christmas eve, for a car fire, the sort of routine job that all of us turn out for regularly. But this time-once again in our history-it was a trap….there was a house and a car burning on arrival and they did what any Firefighter would do-go to work. What was initially un-size-up-able was a waiting psycho killer, who had positioned himself as a sniper on a berm above the unknowing Firefighters.
Before they could begin to hit the fire, the Firefighters were met by blasts of gunfire. Four were hit by the bullets, and two were murdered. Radio traffic proves amazing heroism by surviving WW FF’s (see below).
The 2 Firefighters killed in the Line of Duty were Michael J. Chiapperini, 43, a local Police Lieutenant, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, a 911 Dispatcher for Monroe County. The two wounded Firefighters, Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter fortunately survived (see below).
WHEN a Firefighter dies in the Line of Duty-the least any of us can do is to learn from what happened-and while this incident was as unpredictable as any-what Mike Chiapperini, and Tomasz Kaczowka did, along with the WWFD Officers and members, thru their sacrifice, is greatly heighten the awareness and education for Firefighters everywhere on the potential-and preparedness training related to “active shooter” incidents. As we approach another year anniversary, we remember the friends and families of the late Mike Chiapperini, Tomasz Kaczowka, their family, friends and the officers and members of the West Webster FD. RIP.
HERE is the incredible radio traffic from that incident.

as the injured Firefighters, Joseph Hofstetter, who is also a career Firefighter with the Rochester FD, and Theodore Scardino, are incredibly in control on the radio, despite their serious wounds, as they provide updates, protecting other FF’s, EMT’s and Police Officers-saving more lives.
LISTEN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i84mHI3teB0
This month, December, 2023-we mourn the Line of Duty Deaths of:
Firefighter Lamont Killian, Jr. Mount Vernon, New York
Lt. Charles “Chuck” Gallant of Rye Fire Rescue in New Hampshire
Firefighter/Driver Richard “Rick” D. Miller, Henderson County FD , Lexington, TN.
The above information-and plenty from many other resources and websites as well-provides each of us with an opportunity to share:
-so younger Firefighters understand our history.
-so we all are reminded of the losses.
-so we learn from the lessons learned.
-and so we can honor all Firefighters who gave their lives in the Line of Duty.
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.
A Merry and Blessed Christmas To You And Yours.


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