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Eleven U.S. firefighters recently died in the line of duty. Five career firefighter, five volunteer firefighters and one industrial firefighter died in nine separate incidents. Eight deaths were health related, one death was the result of an accident and two deaths were the result of direct fireground operations. An arson fire claimed the lives of two career firefighters.
FIREFIGHTER CHRIST SWAN, 57, of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Fire Department in Marietta, GA, died on Jan. 10. While investigating an activated fire alarm, Swan suffered cardiac arrest. Fellow firefighters initiated immediate care and transported him to a local hospital, where he died. Swan was a 28-year veteran of the fire service.
FIREFIGHTER/EMT JAMES DELBERT BROOKS, 62, of the Prince George’s County. MD, Fire/EMS Department died on Jan. 15. On Jan. 7, Brooks experienced breathing difficulty while winterizing boats and a fire station at the Fort Washington Marina. Firefighters and paramedics found Brooks in cardiac arrest and began immediate care. He was transported to a local medical facility and then transferred to Medstar at Washington Hospital Center, where he died. Brooks was a 20-year veteran of the fire service.
FIRE ENGINEER GREG HENNESSEY, 49, of the Orange County, CA, Fire Authority died on Jan. 20. During his shift at Fire Station 45, he was found in cardiac arrest by fellow firefighters. Immediate care was initiated and he was transported to Mission Hospital, where he died. Hennessey was a 24-year veteran of the fire service.
FIREFIGHTER HENRY SCOTT PLOWMAN, 44, of the Bradford, PA, Fire Department died on Jan. 22. Plowman’s death due to cancer has been determined to be job related. His 22-year career included Bladensburg, Montgomery County and Rockville fire departments in Maryland; South Conway, SC; Washington, DC, a private firefighting company in Iraq; and for the past five years with the City of Bradford Fire Department.
Two firefighters from the Toledo, OH, Fire and Rescue Department died on Jan. 26. FIREFIGHTER STEPHEN A. MACHCINSKI, 42, a 16-year veteran, and FIREFIGHTER ? JAMES A. DICKMAN, 31, a member for six months, became trapped while searching for occupants of an apartment building fire. The firefighters signaled a Mayday and other crews began rapid intervention operations. According to initial reports, both firefighters were in cardiac arrest when removed from the building after several minutes. Both firefighters were transported to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where they died from their injuries. Radio traffic indicates the two firefighters faced rapidly deteriorating conditions in the two-story, six-unit apartment building. A coroner’s report indicated the two firefighters died from thermal burns and exposure to carbon monoxide. The owner of the building was charged with two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of arson.
CHIEF RICK WINKLES, 53, of the Trumann, AR, Fire Department died on Jan. 28. Winkles suffered an apparent heart attack while operating at a grass fire that spread to a residence, destroying it. He was given immediate care at the scene and transported to a hospital, where he died. Winkles was a 28-year veteran of the fire service.
FIREFIGHTER/EMT-I MICHAEL DALE GARRETT, 28, of the Nutter Fort, WV, Fire Department died on Feb. 1. While performing rescue operations of multiple victims at the scene of a cell tower collapse, a secondary collapse of another tower, severely injured Garrett. He was transported to United Hospital Center, where he died. Two workers also died in the collapse. Garrett was a 15-year veteran of the department.
FIREFIGHTER THOMAS GERALD LEE, 67, of the Four Oaks, NC, Fire Department died on Feb. 1. On Jan. 31, he responded to the fire station for a motor vehicle accident call. Lee died at home from an apparent heart attack less than 24 hours after responding to the call. Lee was a 36-year veteran of the fire service.
FIREFIGHTER DWIGHT HILTON, 57, of the East Central Volunteer Fire Department in Liberty, MS, died on Feb. 1. Hilton suffered a fatal heart attack while fighting an outdoors fire that was threatening several residential structures in the area. Investigators are trying to determine whether the fire was intentionally set. Hilton was an eight-year veteran of the fire service.
LIEUTENANT BRUCE A. STAYNER, 49, Scioto Township Fire Department located in Ostrander, OH, died on Feb. 4. A day earlier, he responded to a mutual aid structure fire. Stayner became ill after returning home and was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he died from an apparent heart attack. Stayner was 30-year veteran of the fire service.
—Jay K. Bradish