In Appreciation to www.Firehouse.Com 6-11-04
A Montana assistant fire chief suffered a heart attack and died Tuesday, June 8 after completing a Pack Test during routine training. Assistant Chief Willie Grudzinski, 46, served the Bridger Volunteer Fire Department for 12 years, said Chief Vern Adkins. “He was a good guy,” Adkins said. Firefighters had taken the light version of the pack test that evening, which requires a hike of one mile within 16 minutes with no pack, the chief said. He said this is required in case they are called to assist the BLM or Forest Service at any local wildfire incidents. He said Grudzinski had passed the test every year before. After completing the test Tuesday evening, Grudzinski came back to the fire station and gave no indication that anything was wrong, Adkins said, although he checked his pulse a few times. Then he left, and a short time later at about 7:50 p.m., they got a call that Grudzinski had passed away at home. His death came just days after an Oregon wildfire crew leader died on June 5 while taking the most arduous version of the Pack Test. Grudzinski is survived by his wife Susie and his step-sons Anthony and Jimmy. He was a very active member of the community, Adkins said. He worked in lumber sales and spent 10 years volunteering with the local ambulance company in addition to the fire department.