Nine U.S. firefighters recently died in the line of duty. One career firefighter and eight volunteer firefighters died in nine separate incidents. Six deaths were health related, two deaths were the result of accidents and one death was the result of direct fireground operations.
FIRE CHIEF MATT FRANTZ, 42, of the Rice Lake Township Volunteer Fire Department in Duluth, MN, died on Dec. 9. Frantz died from an apparent heart attack less than 24 hours after responding to the fire station for a mutual aid fire call. Frantz was a 13-year member of the department.
LIEUTENANT JEFF LITTLE, 50, of the Waycross, GA, Fire Department died on Dec. 15. While performing overhaul at a residential structure fire, the ceiling collapsed, trapping Little. Little was removed from the structure by fellow firefighters and immediate care was initiated. He was transported to the Mayo Clinic of Waycross, where he died. The fire has been ruled as arson and Lieutenant Little's death is being investigated as a homicide. Officials have announced the arrest of 17- and 23-year-old suspects in connection with the fire. They have been charged with murder and arson. Little was a 25-year veteran of the department.
FIREFIGHTER TERRY RICHARD GUSS SR., 72, of the South Zanesville, OH, Fire Department died on Dec. 15. On Dec. 12, Guss fell from the running board of an apparatus at the fire station after returning from a residential fire call, striking his head on the floor. He was transported to a hospital, where he later died.
FIREFIGHTER JOSHUA T. SMITH, 25, of the LaCrosse, VA, Volunteer Fire Department died on Dec. 14. While responding to fire station for a call, Smith lost control of his personal vehicle, which left the roadway and crashed.
FIRE CHIEF JOHN J. WAYMAN SR., 69, of the Jefferson, OH, Fire Department died on Dec. 15. A day earlier, Wayman suffered an apparent heart attack less than 24 hours after responding to an accident involving a truck and a train. Wayman was a 43-year veteran of the department.
FIREFIGHTER JON F. SCHONDELMAYER, 44, of the Swift Creek Rural Fire Department in Cary, NC, died on Dec. 18. While on duty at the fire station, Schondelmayer began feeling ill. He went home to get medication and was to return to the station. While at home, his condition worsened. He was found unresponsive by fellow firefighters and despite all efforts, Schondelmayer died.
FIRE POLICE LIEUTENANT DAVID LIDKE, 51, of Hightstown, NJ, Engine Company 1 died on Dec. 23. After returning to the fire station from performing scene safety duties at two residential structure fires, Lidke collapsed while directing traffic as apparatus backed into the fire station.
ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF JEFFERY LEE FIELDS, 51, of the Youngsville, NC, Volunteer Fire Department died on Dec. 25. On Dec. 12, Fields suffered an apparent heart attack within 24 hours of responding to a motor vehicle accident. Fields underwent bypass surgery and went home on Dec. 23.
FIREFIGHTER COSMO PARIS, 59, of the Cliffside Park, NJ, Fire Department died on Jan. 8. On Jan. 6, Paris responded to an alarm that required a standby crew at a building for 16 hours in sub-freezing weather. Shortly after the standby was concluded, Paris suffered an apparent heart attack while operating a motor vehicle. He was discovered by a police patrol unit, which summoned help. He was transported to a hospital, where he later died. Paris was a 15-year member of the department.
—Jay K. Bradish