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November Line-of-Duty Deaths
Four U.S. firefighters died in November. One career firefighter and three volunteer firefighters died at four separate incidents. All four deaths were attributed to heart attacks.
FIRE POLICE OFFICER EDWARD STEFFY, 71, of the Rothsville, PA, Volunteer Fire Company died on Nov. 10. While directing traffic at the scene of a motor vehicle accident at Rothsville Road and 772, Steffy became ill and sat in his vehicle. He went into cardiac arrest and died at the scene. Steffy was a 30-year veteran of the department.
CAPTAIN JONATHAN YOUNG, 50, of the Roselle, NJ, Fire Department died on Nov. 16. While responding to a reported fire, Young suffered a heart attack and crashed the vehicle he was operating into a tree on East Highland Parkway. He was transported to a hospital, where he died.
FIRE CHIEF GREGORY S. BAKER, 52, of the Lewisville, OH, Volunteer Fire Department died on Nov. 20 after he became ill while operating at a tanker fill site being used for a structure fire. EMS personnel provided immediate aid and transported him by medical helicopter to a Wheeling, WV, hospital, where he died of an apparent heart attack.
FIREFIGHTER JONNY LYNN NORTON, 56, of the Hot Springs, NC, Volunteer Fire Department died on Nov. 24. Norton suffered an apparent heart attack after returning home from a two-day search-and-rescue operation. He was transported to Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC, where he died. Norton was a 37-year veteran of the fire service.
—Jay K. Bradish
U.S. Senate Confirms Mitchell as Nation’s Fire Chief
The United States Senate unanimously voted to confirm President Barack Obama’s selection of Chief Ernest Mitchell (Ret.) as the U.S. Fire Administrator. Mitchell will take the helm of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Fire Administration, an agency he sees as, “elevating and enhancing the American fire service’s response capability” according to his testimony before the Senate committee of jurisdiction.
Before retiring in 2004, Mitchell served as fire chief and assistant director of disaster emergency services for the Pasadena (CA) Fire Department, and as president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). His career encompasses 30 years of experience in the local fire service, as well as a prominent role in national efforts to improve the capabilities, training and safety of American responders and those they serve.
“This is a great day for America’s fire service,” said Chief Al Gillespie, IAFC president and chairman of the board. “Chief Mitchell has a leadership style that draws from the best of the fire and emergency service tradition, and combines it with a modern outlook and a progressive vision. I cannot think of a better person to lead our industry during these difficult times and into a bright future.”
Rocky Mount SWERT Teams Aids Police
Members of the Rocky Mount, NC, Fire Department’s Swift Water Emergency Response Team (SWERT) responded to a call for assistance from their local police department. Two armed robbery suspects were fleeing from police when pursuing officers noticed one of the suspects throw something over the Peachtree Street Bridge railing into the Tar River below. SWERT members responded and developed a plan to recover the evidence. Divers were able to utilize information gathered from the witnessing officers to narrow down what otherwise would have been a large search area. Initial Diver, Senior Firefighter Matthew Hux entered the cold, zero-visibility water and was able to locate a small, black BB pistol that police officials believe was used during the commission of the robbery.
NFPA Issues High-Rise Fire Report
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has issued a new report on high-rise fires. Among the findings:
• In 2005-2009, there was an average of 15,700 reported structure fires in high-rise buildings per year with an associated $235 million in direct property damage.