My condolences and prayers go out to the family and friends of Bill Wilkens, a member of the Barrie, Ontario, Fire and Emergency Service.
"Bill was a shining example of the spirit and dedication of our entire staff," said Chief Ron Hickey in a prepared statement. "His loyalty and professionalism were an inspiration to the entire Barrie Fire and Emergency Service. I can't begin to express the loss that our entire team feels at this time."
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Thread: Ontario, Canada LODD
05-28-2002, 02:35 AM #1
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05-28-2002, 04:14 PM #2
- Join Date
- Nov 2001
From the Barrie Examiner:
City firefighter killed battling house blaze
BY MIKE HINDS
A Barrie firefighter was killed and another injured while battling a house fire in the city’s north end yesterday morning.
Witnesses believe 32-year-old Bill Wilkins died after falling through the floor at 12 Sinclair Court. Firefighter Martin Brucato, who was in the house with Wilkins, escaped with minor injuries.
By early Monday afternoon, Wilkins had been airlifted to Royal Victoria Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Pending a full investigation, fire officials have declined to release any details concerning the cause of the fire.
At council last night, fire chief Ron Hickey said that while he was unsure why Wilkins and Brucato had entered the two-storey home, it was not uncommon for firefighters to do so.
“It’s common procedure, for search and rescue and containment of the fire,” said Hickey.
The death of Wilkins, the first firefighter to die on the job in Barrie in well over a century, has left community and friends in a state of shock and disarray.
“I remember asking him, what do you want to do when you grow up,” said Carol Bullis, who knew Wilkins for 15 years.
“He said, ‘I wanna be a firefighter’.”
“He was a heck of a guy, that’s for sure,” Bullis said of her friend. “I’ll always remember his humour and his intelligence.”
Emergency vehicles were on hand within minutes of yesterday’s fire call, blocking off the area and re-routing any traffic that tried to come down Lillian Crescent, which connects with Sinclair Court.
“I thought it was somebody doing a barbecue at first,” said Ken Watt, who lives a few doors down. “But you can tell one smell (of smoke) is different then another.”
A resident of the home, 22-year-old Deanna Heightmann, was distraught when she heard that a firefighter had died while fighting the blaze.
“He risked his life and lost it,” she said. “These material things can be replaced. (His life) can’t.”
Heightmann said the family lost virtually everything.
Still, a sense of relief came with knowing that her mother, Jennifer Wyer, and a boarder who had just moved into the home both managed to escape unharmed.
“My mom was upstairs in the kitchen, she didn’t smell anything,” said a clearly shaken Heightmann. “My dog started barking. He saved the day.”
The dog, Blue, made it out alive. Other pets - including two birds and a cross between a guinea pig and a rabbit - didn’t.
Stunned residents looked on in disbelief as firefighters entered and re-entered the house, pausing only for quick drinks of water.
While smoke billowed out of the front of the home, firefighters really had their hands full with the blaze at the rear.
Flames leaped out of a smashed sliding glass door and went almost to the top of the two-storey structure. Flames could also be seen jumping out of basement windows.
The fire department used four pumpers and an emergency vehicle. Three ambulances and half-a-dozen police cruisers were also on hand.
By the time the air ambulance helicopter landed on the Salvation Army Church property behind the home in the early afternoon, news had begun to spread that there may have been a fatality.
A firefighter dropped to one knee as Wilkins was wheeled past him by emergency personnel on their way to the waiting helicopter.
Sobbing firefighters being led away from the house, comforted by others seemed to further fuel peoples’ fears that a man was dead.
“One of our (firefighters) has lost his life,” confirmed Mayor Jim Perri, early in the afternoon at an impromptu press conference on the side of Sinclair Court, tears forming in his eyes. “The police and fire marshal will be investigating the case.”
By mid-afternoon, the neighbourhood crowd had largely vanished as emergency vehicles slowly dispersed and children resumed their play at a nearby daycare.
The sun beat down steadily from above, the police line blocking off a part of Sinclair fluttering gently in the breeze.
At one point, the Snowbirds aerial team flew overhead.
Their show today will be dedicated to Wilkins’ and his family. Wilkins had two brothers and was to be married.
“He was just a great guy,” said Dave McLean, who also knew Wilkins for 15 years. “He just wanted to help people, he was always there for all of us.
“There’s a bunch of friends coming over (last night). We’re just going to tell some stories and remember him.”
05-28-2002, 09:22 PM #3
- Join Date
- May 2002
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and co-workers. I was just in Barrie about two months ago for a hockey tournament.
05-29-2002, 05:22 PM #4
- Join Date
- May 2002
- Sahuarita, Arizona
Barrie, Ontario LODD
On behalf of the Green Valley Fire District and the Green Valley Firefighters Association Local 4125 we wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and Brother/Sister Firefighters of the Barrie, Ontario Fire and Emergency Service on the loss of Brother Firefighter Bill Wilkins. Our Prayers are with you.Captain Ken Shultz
Green Valley Fire District,
Green Valley, AZ
05-29-2002, 08:12 PM #5
- Join Date
- Sep 2001
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Bill Wilkins.
05-31-2002, 03:21 PM #6
- Join Date
- May 2002
- Barrie Ont. Canada
As a member of the Barrie Fire and Emergency Service I found myself in New York City last fall giving comfort and support to my brothers and sisters of the FDNY. Little did I know that in a few short months I would find myself on the receiving end of that support from fire fighters and civilians alike from across Canada and the Unitied States.
We have suffererd a tragic loss within our department and the outpouring of support and comfort rendered has indeed touched my heart. Tomorrow when we lay BIll to rest the tears will flow, but I will be able to carry on knowing that my brothers and sisters are there to help me.
06-10-2002, 07:06 PM #7
My condolences as well to Bill Wilkins' family, and brothers and sisters on the Barrie Department. I have summered in Barrie often, and can attest to the high standard which these firefighters uphold.
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