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Thirteen U.S. firefighters recently died in the line of duty. Nine career firefighter and four volunteer firefighters died in 13 separate incidents. Eight deaths were health related, four deaths were the result of accidents and one death was the result of direct fireground operations.
PILOT JAKE HARRELL, 34, of the Arkansas Forestry Commission died on Jan. 31. Harrell was flying a Cessna 210 Centurion on a regularly scheduled fire detection flight in western Arkansas when the plane crashed near Glenwood in Montgomery County. It took searchers nearly two weeks to locate the wreckage of the plane. Officials believe that Harrell died on impact. Harrell was a nine-year member of the department.
FIRE CHIEF JAMES JOSEPH KNESEK SR., 59, of the Munster, IN, Fire Department died on Feb. 8. Knesek died from an apparent heart attack several hours after returning home from a motor vehicle accident call. Knesek was a 35-year veteran of the fire service.
ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF JAMES C. WILBER, 58, of the Franklin, NY, Fire Department died on Feb. 9. While responding to a motor vehicle accident call, Wilber suffered an apparent heart attack. He was transported by Unadilla Emergency Squad and Cooperstown Medical Transport to Tri-Town Hospital in Sidney, where he died. Wilber was a 40-year veteran of the fire service.
CAPTAIN DENNIS CHANNELL, 54, of the Poyen, AR, Fire Department died on Feb. 10. The day before, Channell responded to an emergency medical call. Within 24 hours, he suffered a cerebrovascular accident and was transported to a hospital, where he died. Channell was a 20-year veteran of the fire service.
FIRE RESCUE OFFICER WILLIAM SCOTT TANKSLEY, 40, of the Dallas, TX, Fire Rescue Department died on Feb. 10. While setting road flares at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on a bridge in southwest Dallas, Tanksley was struck by another vehicle. He fell off the bridge to the ground below. The accident occurred at Spur 408 SB on a ramp to Interstate 20 EB. He was transported to a hospital, where he died. Tanksley was a 14-year veteran of the department.
ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF RODGER DALE TOME, 71, of the Kennedy Space Center, FL, Fire Department died on Feb. 10. Within 24 hours of completing a shift that included department-mandated physical training, Tome died from an apparent heart attack. Tome was a 51-year veteran of the fire service.
FIRE CHIEF RANDY R. POGUE, 49, from the Oak Grove Fire District 25 in Maumelle, AR, died on Feb. 19. On Feb. 2, while responding to a motor vehicle accident call, Pogue lost control of his vehicle on an ice-covered roadway and crashed. He was transported to a hospital, where he died of complications from his injuries. Pogue was a 32-year veteran of the fire service.
LIEUTENANT BRUCE BRITT, 48, of the Columbia, MO, Fire Department died on Feb. 22. While evacuating students from a university residence apartment building, a portion of an elevated walkway collapsed on him. Britt was a 23-year veteran of the fire service.
LIEUTENANT HOMER HARRELL, 46, of the Orange City, FL, Fire Department died on Feb. 24. Within 24 hours of his shift ending, Harrell suffered an apparent heart attack. During his shift, he had responded to at least one emergency call. Harrell was an 11-year member of the fire service.
FIREFIGHTER GREGORY D. BARNAS, 57, of the Wallington, NJ, Fire Department died on Feb. 28. Barnas fell from the roof of a burning restaurant while performing ventilation operations. Barnas was a 29-year veteran of the fire service.
FIREFIGHTER FIRST CLASS STEVEN JOSEPH KNAUS, 47, of the Willowick, OH, Fire Department died on Feb. 28. Within 24 hours of the end of his shift, Knaus was found in his vehicle at his residence in cardiac arrest. He was treated and transported to a hospital, where he died. Knaus had responded to four emergency calls during his shift. Knaus was a 24-year veteran of the fire service.
FIREFIGHTER JERRY CAMPBELL, 61, of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry died on March 1. Campbell suffered an apparent heart attack while at a work center preparing to be deployed to a wildfire in the Cherokee National Forest. Air transport to a hospital was requested, but Campbell died at the scene.
FIREFIGHTER/EMT KEVIN J. BRISTOL, 48, of the Peekskill, NY, Fire Department died on March 3. Bristol suffered an apparent heart attack and died at home less than 24 hours after completing a shift during which he had responded to a kitchen fire. Bristol was a 26-year veteran of the fire service.
—Jay K. Bradish