Dr. Kimberly Alyn Passes
The Firehouse® family has lost another member. We are saddened to report that Dr. Kimberly Alyn passed away on Dec. 27, 2012. Kim was a longtime Firehouse®Magazine and Firehouse.com contributor and a featured speaker at many of our conferences. She was the author of 12 books and was an international fire service speaker and training instructor. In addition, Kim was the owner of Fire Presentations, a company dedicated to keynote presentations and training workshops for the fire service. She worked with fire departments across the country on firefighter and fire officer leadership development. She is survived by her husband and two children.
USFA Releases 2012 Firefighter Fatality Statistics
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) announced a provisional total of 83 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States as a result of incidents that occurred in 2012, the same number of firefighter losses as in 2011. The 83 fatalities were spread across 34 states. Pennsylvania and North Carolina experienced the highest number of fatalities with nine firefighter deaths each. New York had six firefighter deaths, including the most recent tragic shooting deaths of two firefighters in Webster. California and Texas, each with five firefighter deaths, were the only other states with five or more firefighter fatalities in 2012.
Heart attacks or stroke were responsible for the deaths of 41 firefighters (49%) in 2012. This single year total is a near average proportion of firefighter deaths from heart attack or stroke over recent years. This nature of fatal injury has remained relatively constant, while others, on average, have been reduced during the past decade.
Eleven on-duty firefighters died in association with wildland fires, the same as 2011 and 2010.
The single cause of injury seeing more than a four-fold increase in firefighter deaths during 2012 was vehicle collisions (including aircraft), with 18 deaths.
Fourteen U.S. emergency personnel recently died in the line of duty. One career firefighter, five volunteer firefighters, one paid-on-call firefighter and seven civilian employees died in nine separate incidents. Seven deaths were the result of accidents, five deaths were health related and two deaths were the result of a shooting incident. Two medical helicopter crashes claimed six lives.
FIREFIGHTER JALEN SMITH, 20, of the Jackson Heights Volunteer Fire Department in Tyler, TX, died on Dec. 3. On Nov. 30, three members of the department were responding to the fire station in response to a tractor-trailer accident in a privately owned vehicle when it crashed. It is reported that driver of the vehicle was forced to take evasive action to avoid another vehicle. The vehicle overturned and Smith was reportedly ejected. Two other members of the department were injured.
FIRE CHIEF EDDY MEADOR, 54, of the Pattonsburg, MO, Fire and Rescue Protection District died on Dec. 8. Meador had responded to several calls, including a vehicle fire and a hazardous materials incident, before becoming ill and he died at a hospital in Trenton of an apparent heart attack. Meador was a 35-year veteran of the fire service.
FIRE CHIEF STEVEN W. FRITZ, 58, of the Rothschild, WI, Fire Department died on Dec. 10. Fritz became ill at home after responding to an earlier call. He was transported to Saint Clare’s Hospital, where he died of an apparent heart attack. Fritz was a 20-year veteran of the fire service.
Three employees of REACT/Rockford Memorial Hospital in Rockford, IL, died in a medical helicopter crash on Dec. 10. PILOT ANDY OLESEN, 65, FLIGHT NURSE KAREN HOLLIS, 48, and FLIGHT NURSE JIM DILLOW, 40, died when the helicopter crashed in a field near Compton, about 50 miles south of Rockford. The helicopter was enroute to Mendota Community Hospital from Rockford Memorial Hospital to pick up a patient when the crash occurred. The pilot notified the dispatch center that he was aborting the flight due to weather conditions. No further communications were received from the helicopter.
FIREFIGHTER JEFFREY HUDSON, 46, of the St. Louis, MO., Fire Department died on Dec. 12. After returning from a call, Hudson was found dead in his bunk at the fire station. Hudson was an 18-year veteran of the department.
FIRE CHIEF PHILIP A. MORTENSEN, 67, of the Brooklyn, WI, Fire and EMS Protection District died on Dec. 22. After returning to his place of employment from a call, Mortensen became ill and collapsed outside of the building. First responders initiated CPR, but all efforts failed. Mortensen died of apparent cardiac arrest.
Two firefighters from the West Webster, NY, Volunteer Fire Department died on Dec. 24. FIREFIGHTER MIKE J. CHIAPPERINI, 43, and FIREFIGHTER TOMASZ M. KACZOWKA, 19, died in a shooting incident that left two other firefighters seriously injured. Arriving at the scene of an intentionally set house and vehicle fire, firefighters were ambushed by a shooter. The shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators also found the remains of the shooter’s sister in the burned-out house. Seven homes were destroyed or damaged in the fire, which burned out of control as firefighters waited for the scene to be secured by police and SWAT teams.
Three employees of Med-Trans Air Medical Transport, based in Lewisville, TX, died on Jan. 2, 2013, in a medical helicopter crash near Mason City, IA, on Jan. 2. PILOT GENE GRELL, 53, FLIGHT NURSE SHELLY LAIR-LANGENBAU, 44, and FLIGHT PARAMEDIC RUSSELL PIEHL, 48, died in the crash. The helicopter crashed in a snowy field in northern Iowa shortly after departing Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City at around 9 P.M. The helicopter was enroute to pick up a patient in Emmetsburg, about 78 miles west of Mason City.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN WILLIAM MARTIN, 56, of the Stillwater, NJ, Emergency Rescue Squad died on Jan. 8. Martin was driving an ambulance transporting a burn victim from a house fire to a helicopter landing zone when he suffered an apparent heart attack and lost control of the ambulance. The ambulance left the road and crashed into a utility pole. Martin was pronounced dead at the scene. The patient and a paramedic and an EMT in the ambulance were not injured.
—Jay K. Bradish/IFPA