Twenty-five U.S. firefighters recently died in the line of duty. Twenty-two career firefighters and three volunteer firefighters died in seven separate incidents. Twenty-one deaths were the result of direct fireground operations, two deaths were the result of accidents and two deaths were health related. One incident claimed the lives of 19 wildland firefighters; see page 58 for details.
FIREFIGHTER LUKE SHEEHY, 28, of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region in Vallejo, CA, died on June 10. Sheehy was a member of the California Smokejumpers operating on the Saddle Back Fire in the Modoc National Forest constructing a fire line when he was struck by a portion of a falling tree. He was treated at the scene and flown by helicopter to a hospital in Alturas, CA, where he died. The fire originated from a lighting strike on June 10.
FIREFIGHTER TONY BARKER, 36, of the Mountain View Volunteer Fire Department in Hays, NC, died on June 13. Barker was first on scene at an incident where a tree blew across power lines and ignited a small structure fire. Witnesses stated that Barker was three feet from the structure when he collapsed from an apparent electrocution. Reports indicate that the ground was saturated with rainwater, which helped conduct the electricity from the building through the ground. Fellow firefighters moved Baker away from the building and began CPR. He was transported to Wilkes Regional Medical Center, where he died.
FIREFIGHTER THOMAS BURLEY, 20, of the Youngstown, NY, Volunteer Fire Department died June 18. Burley was returning from Firefighter I training at the Niagara County Public Safety Training Facility when his motorcycle collided head-on with a van. Immediate care was initiated and he was transported to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, where he died.
ASSISTANT CHIEF EDWARD C. VANNER JR., 58, of the 143rd Fire & Emergency Services, Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingston, RI, died on June 17. Vanner was found unresponsive in his office by a fellow firefighter. Immediate aid was given and Vanner was transported to Kent Hospital, where he died of an apparent heart attack.
FIREFIGHTER/CHAPLAIN JOHN T. APPLETON, 62, of the Malden Volunteer Fire Department in Charleston, WV, died on June 24. Appleton suffered cardiac arrest while performing exterior firefighting operations at a house fire in Sissonville with other firefighters. Immediate care was initiated and he was transported to the hospital where he died.
ENGINEER/PARAMEDIC CHRISTOPHER DOUGLAS, 41, of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Thousand Palms Engine Company 35 in Riverside County died on July 5. Douglas was struck by a passing vehicle on Interstate 10 in the Thousand Palms area of Riverside County. He was transported to Desert Regional Medical Center, where he died.
—Jay K. Bradish