September Line-of-Duty Deaths

Eight U.S. emergency services personnel died in September. One career firefighter and seven volunteer firefighters died in seven separate incidents. Two deaths were the result of fireground operations, two were due to accidents and four deaths were health related.

FIREFIGHTER HENRY “JAY” BRANSCUM, 32, of the R-IV Rural Fire Association in Cairo, MO, died on Sept. 2. Branscum collapsed and died while operating at the scene of a fire involving multiple camp trailers. He was member of the department for one year.

FIREFIGHTER CHRISTOPHER PETERSON, 22, of the Ward Four Fire Protection District in Jonesboro, LA, died on Sept. 3. Peterson was operating a department utility truck responding to an EMS call when he failed to negotiate a curve. The truck struck an embankment and several trees. He was transported to Jackson Parish Hospital, where he died. Peterson was a member of the department for four years.

Two firefighters from the Sunset Fire Department in Britton, SD, died on Sept. 15. FIREFIGHTER JACOB WALDNER, 20, and FIREFIGHTER WILLIAM WALDNER, 22, who were cousins, were killed in the explosion of a coal bin that was on fire. The firefighters were operating on the roof when the explosion occurred, blowing the roof off and the south and west walls out of the structure. The two firefighters returned to the top of the 75-foot structure to extinguish the fire after it was initially thought to have been extinguished. Both firefighters died at the scene.

FIREFIGHTER MICHAEL COLLINS, 41, of the Shelby, IA, Fire and Rescue Department died on Sept. 18. Collins was struck and killed while operating at a traffic-control point at a motor vehicle accident on Interstate 80.

CAPTAIN GEORGE W. FISHER III, 57, of Sandy Bottom Volunteer Fire and Rescue in Kinston, NC, died on Sept. 22. Fisher collapsed while having a fire department vehicle serviced. He was transported to the hospital, where he died. Fisher was a 23-year veteran of the department.

LIEUTENANT KEITH GREGORY RANKIN, 38, of the Lancaster Township Fire Department in Bausman, PA, died on Sept. 25. Rankin collapsed while conducting a live-burn exercise at the Lancaster County Fire School. Immediate care was initiated by fellow firefighters and he was transported to Lancaster General Hospital, where he died. Rankin was a 23-year veteran of the department.

FIREFIGHTER II VINCE CRUZ, 41, of the Guahan Fire Department in Hagatna, Guam, died on Sept. 29 while on duty after responding to several calls. Cruz, a 19-year veteran of the department, was posthumously promoted to lieutenant.

Jay K. Bradish