Line-of-Duty Deaths 4/12

Nine U.S. firefighters recently died in the line of duty. Three career firefighters and six volunteer firefighters died in eight separate incidents.

Two members of the Bryan, TX, Fire Department died on Feb. 16 from injuries received while fighting a multiple-alarm fire at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Feb. 15. LIEUTENANT ERIC WALLACE, 36, and LIEUTENANT GREGORY PICKARD, 54, died from burn injuries suffered while performing interior firefighting and rescue operations. Wallace became trapped inside the building and radioed others that he was low on air. Pickard and two other firefighters entered the building to rescue Wallace. While firefighters were searching for Wallace, the roof of the building collapsed. Wallace was pronounced dead at the scene. The three other firefighters were flown by helicopter to University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Pickard died at the hospital. The building was not occupied at the time of the fire and the fire was reported by a passerby. Wallace was a 13-year veteran of the department and Pickard was a 32-year veteran of the department. Investigators determined that a faulty electrical cord running a fan was the cause of the fire in the 68-year-old building.

FIRE POLICE OFFICER CLAUDIA SOKOL, 55, of Diligence Fire Company No. 1 in Summit Hill, PA, died on Feb. 22. A day earlier, Sokol was performing traffic-control duties at the scene of a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Route 902 and North Chestnut Street when she suffered a medical emergency. She was transported to St. Luke Hospital, Bethlehem Campus, where she died. Sokol was a six-year member of the department.

FIREFIGHTER DAVID SCHNEPP, 43, of the Carter’s Valley Fire Department in Church Hill, TN, suffered a medical emergency and died on Feb. 24 shortly after operating at a brushfire. Schnepp was a 20-year veteran of the fire service.

FIREFIGHTER NATE FRUIN, 22, of the Mattawan, MI, Fire District died on Feb. 26. Shortly after leaving the fire station in response to a structure fire, Fruin suffered cardiac arrest. Responding firefighters rendered immediate aid and transported him to Kalamazoo Hospital. where he died. Fruin was member of the department for three years.

FIRE CHIEF SCOTT MORRISON, 45, of the Knotts Island, NC, Volunteer Fire Department died on March 3. While operating at the scene of a brushfire, Chief Morrison collapsed in cardiac arrest. He was treated at the scene by Currituck Emergency Medical Services and transported to a hospital in Virginia, where he died. Morrison was a 29-year veteran of the fire service.

FIREFIGHTER CHRISTOPHER BROWN, 39, of the Hudson, IL, Community Fire Protection District died on March 5. Brown was operating at the scene of a multiple-vehicle accident on Interstate 39 when a tractor-trailer carrying cars lost control and struck three emergency vehicles and several responders. Five other firefighters were injured and transported to a hospital in Normal. Brown was a 15-year veteran of the fire service.

FIREFIGHTER CADET DONALD MIZE, 62, of the League City, TX, Volunteer Fire Department died on March 6. While cooling down after a training exercise at the department’s training facility, Mize became ill. Immediate care was given and Mize was transported to a hospital, where he died.

FIREFIGHTER/ENGINEER LONNIE NUTT, 49, of the Marietta, GA, Fire Department died on March 7 after he collapsed while operating at the scene of a motor vehicle accident. Immediate care was initiated and Nutt was transported to Kennestone Hospital, where he died.

Jay K. Bradish