For the Record 11/12

Marion Body Works President Dies in Crash

James M. Simpson, 51, the president and chief executive officer of Marion Body Works, was killed in a motor vehicle crash on Oct. 4.

Simpson had been president and chief executive officer of the WI-based maker of fire and rescue apparatus for the past several years, sharing the control of the family owned company with his brother-in-law, Curt Ignacio, who is the company’s co-president and chief operating officer. Simpson’s father, Vinson (Bud), and the late Elizabeth (Betty) Simpson purchased Marion Body Works in 1980.

Under his guidance, Marion Body Works has expanded its line of apparatus from primarily rescue vehicles to pumpers, tankers and now aerials as well. The business has grown from a regional builder, to one of national prominence.

Simpson leaves behind his wife, Lynne, of 26 years and three sons, as well as his father, sister and extended family members.


Fire Protection Research Foundation to Study Cooking-Related Fires

Cooking equipment-related fires are the leading cause of U.S. fire loss, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). During the five-year-period of 2006-2010, cooking equipment was involved in an average of 157,300 reported home structure fires, with associated losses of 380 civilian deaths, 4,920 civilian injuries and $794 million in direct property damage per year.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation an affiliate of NFPA, with a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is addressing this concern. Through the remainder of 2012 and throughout 2013, the Foundation will support a research project, Development of Standard Cooking Fire Scenarios and Candidate Test Methods for Evaluating Cooking Fire Mitigation Technologies, to examine three main areas of cooking-related fires, and develop an action plan towards improving overall cooking fire safety. The project will focus on the development of the means for implementing prevention technologies that are suitable for use on or with home cooking appliances. The three categories of cooking-related fires to be studied are:  fires starting in a pot or pan on a burner; fires due to food spillage onto a burner; and products such as utensils, oven mitts and other items that catch fire on or near a burner.

This grant-funded research project report is slated for completion by the end of 2013, and will be made available through the Foundation’s website (


NFFF Receives $1 Million Grant

The safety of our nation’s firefighters will continue to improve thanks to a $1 million federal grant to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). The grant will help support the Foundation’s Everyone Goes Home® program, which educates firefighters about preventing line-of-duty deaths and injuries.

The grant is awarded from the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program. The AFG provides funding each year to fire departments and emergency medical service organizations that are unaffiliated with hospitals.

“The Foundation is grateful to receive this grant so that we can continue our mission of honoring our nation’s fallen firefighters and their survivors by helping others to prevent line-of-duty deaths and injuries,” said Chief Ronald J. Sianicki, executive director of the NFFF. “These funds will enable us to further reach members of the fire service with vital information and resources so that they can do their jobs safely and effectively.”

Everyone Goes Home is a national education and training program to help reduce the number of line-of-duty deaths and injuries that occur each year. The program was created to support the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives (FLSI) that were developed during the 2004 Firefighter Life Safety Summit in Tampa.

For more information about the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Everyone Goes Home, visit


USFA Releases Report on Portable Heater Fires

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has released a special report examining the characteristics of portable heater fires in residential buildings. The report, Portable Heater Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010), was developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center and is based on 2008 to 2010 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

According to the report:

  • An estimated 900 portable heater fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 70 deaths, 150 injuries and $53 million in property loss.
  • Only 2 percent of heating fires in residential buildings involved portable heaters, however, portable heaters were involved in 45 percent of all fatal heating fires in residential buildings.
  • 52 percent of portable heater fires in residential buildings occurred because the heat source was too close to combustibles.

While portable heating fires were small in number, the consequences were substantial, accounting for nearly half of all fatal heating fires in residential buildings. Many of these fires were preventable as human error – placing the heater too close to combustible items or leaving the heater unattended – was a contributing factor to the fire.

To download this report, go to For further information regarding other topical reports or fire prevention, visit the USFA website at


Line-of-Duty Deaths


FIRE POLICE CAPTAIN STEVEN HENRY JR., 52, of the Columbia, PA, Consolidated Fire Department died on Sept. 7. The previous day, Henry responded to a fire call and became ill at the scene. He went to his family doctor the next morning. Later that day, he suffered cardiac arrest at home and died. Henry was a 35-year veteran of the fire service.

FIREFIGHTER CHRIS SEELYE, 61, of the USDA Forest Service, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Wenatchee, WA, died on Sept. 17. Seelye was working as a timber faller on the Wenatchee Complex Fire when he suffered a medical emergency. He was treated on the scene by medical personnel and transported to a nearby hospital, where he died.

CAPTAIN NEAL W. SMITH, 46, of the Atascocita, TX, Volunteer Fire Department died on Sept. 17. On Sept. 15, Smith passed out from heat exhaustion while participating in a smoke diver class at the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex. He was transported to a hospital, where he remained in critical condition until his death. Smith was a five-year member of the department. This was the first line-of-duty death in the department’s 44-year history. Another firefighter was hospitalized due to a heat-related illness.

EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN BELINDA GAYLE RIVERS, 43, of the Sandhills Ambulance Service in Cheraw, SC, died on Sept. 25. Rivers was the front-seat passenger in an ambulance that collided with a tractor-trailer on U.S. 74 in Monroe, NC. According to reports, Rivers was ejected from the ambulance and pinned underneath. The driver of the ambulance was transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries.

JUNIOR FIREFIGHTER JUSTIN TOWNSEND, 17, of the Dagsboro, DE, Volunteer Fire Department died on Sept. 27. Townsend was a passenger in a pickup truck responding to the fire station to respond to a brushfire. The 18-year-old driver of the pickup truck lost control of the vehicle, struck a utility pole and overturned. Townsend died at the scene of the accident. Both occupants of the vehicle were properly restrained, according to reports. Townsend was a member of the department for one year. This was the first line-of-duty death in the department’s 69-year history.

LIEUTENANT JOHN GRABOWSKI, 49, of the Riverview, MI, Fire Department died on Oct. 1. On Sept. 30, Grabowski participated in department training. The following morning, he was found unresponsive in his second employer’s parking lot. He was transported to Henry Ford Wyandotte Michigan Hospital, where he died of an apparent heart attack.

CHIEF LARRY D. NIELSEN, 60, of the Gilmore City, IA, Fire Department died on Oct. 9. Nielsen was riding on an apparatus responding to a barn fire when he became ill. The apparatus operator stopped the vehicle and Nielsen was treated by EMS personnel. He was transported to a hospital, where he died from an apparent heart attack.

—Jay K. Bradish