PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) - Ponca City firefighters will receive
grief management training following the death of a member of the
fire department.
Ponca City firefighter Jim Socia was struck and killed on Monday
by a pickup truck while on a bicycle trip.
Socia's death was the latest in a series of tragic deaths that
had placed new strains on the fire department, including the deaths
of firefighters' parents and a couple of firefighters' sons in the
past two months.
Socia, 42, was a senior driver assigned to Station No. 1.
"Even before this happened, we've gone through a lot of grief
this year," Capt. Bill Combest said Wednesday. "Right now, you'll
see two or three guys huddled here and there - might be in the
kitchen or the rec room.
"Letting us be involved with planning the funeral has helped a
bunch. Each shift comes in with their own ideas. The brainstorming
is helping a bunch."
Socia's funeral is scheduled Friday. Firefighters will deliver
Socia's body to the church on a department fire truck.
"It's going to be a hard day on Friday," Kevin Roe said.
"There is a tremendous brotherhood that takes place in a fire
department. This is not something new to fire departments in
general, but it's something that hasn't happened here in a long
time."
Socia was a dedicated cyclist. He competed in the world police
and firefighting games in Sweden in 2000. He also once finished
second in a Mr. Tulsa competition.
"You never had to worry about Jim; he was cool under fire,"
said Gary Vap, also a senior driver.
Vap told of a house fire several years ago that occurred early
in the morning with temperatures below zero. Socia was on the
interior attack crew when a gas line ruptured and exploded,
"literally blowing them out of the house," Vap said.
"Jim picked himself up, went to the truck to get a fresh air
pack bottle and went back in like it was nothing. In the middle of
the night you're thinking it could be a rescue situation, there
might be people in the house."
Socia leaves a 13-year-old daughter.