Firefighter trainee collapses, dies
The 22-year-old Tavares man was warming up for a training class when he died, officials say.
Sarah Lundy | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted September 20, 2005
TAVARES -- Debbie Enfinger touched her son's South Lake High class ring that hung on a thick gold chain around her neck.
"This keeps him close to my heart," she said, holding back tears Monday.
Kevin Enfinger, 22, slipped off his ring Saturday morning and left it in his truck before his firefighting class at the Institute of Public Safety on Lane Park Cutoff Road in Tavares.
Shortly after he began jogging for his class warm-up about 9 a.m., the young man called "Dumplin" in high school, collapsed and his heart stopped. An instructor performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until an ambulance arrived to take him to Florida Hospital Waterman, where he was pronounced dead.
Two days later, Debbie Enfinger, 43, and her family sat under a shade tree outside their Groveland home and tried to cope with the loss of the man whose life had started to take direction.
They talked about how Kevin Enfinger loved to laugh, shop at the Bass Pro Shop in Orlando and eat bourbon chicken at the mall.
On most mornings, the older of two children left his garage apartment behind his parent's home about 5:30 a.m. and headed for his job as a plumber. He would work until 2 p.m. and then go to firefighting school until 10:30 p.m.
"We don't understand why the Lord took him because he was such a decent man," said his aunt, Linda Bedford, 47.
An autopsy revealed an enlarged heart with bad coronary arteries, said Medical Examiner Steven Cogswell.
"This is unusual for a 22-year-old, but it does happen occasionally," he said, adding Enfinger had a history of hypertension. According to medical records, Enfinger -- 6 feet tall and just more than 300 pounds -- was diagnosed with Kawasaki syndrome as a child. That is a disease of the blood vessels that can lead to long-term heart damage, Cogswell said.
It's unknown if the physical demands of firefighter school contributed to his death, he said.
According to the school, a doctor must examine students, including an electrocardiogram test, before they start classes. Enfinger's parents said his doctor cleared him to train.
The Florida Bureau of Fire Standards and Training plans to investigate to ensure policies were followed, including how the information about his enlarged heart was handled, said Walt Malo, the Safety Program manager with the State Fire Marshal's Office. The school also will review what happened.
Enfinger often talked about becoming a rescue worker -- a police officer or a firefighter.
After graduating from high school in 2002, he worked various jobs, such as well drilling. He watched friends go to firefighter school and listened to his parents who urged him to do something more with his life.
"Anybody can do [plumbing or well drilling]," his mother remembered telling him. "Do something they can't do. Use your education."
When classes began Aug. 22, Enfinger took his first step in his journey to become an arson investigator, a job his father said Enfinger longed to have.
"He had that set in his mind that's what he wanted to do," said his father, Danny Enfinger, 42.
He attended night classes Monday through Thursday and all day Saturday.
The firefighter student embraced his studies. He met other students for study sessions. He even carried his schoolbooks when he went out to dinner with his family and girlfriend of four months.
Enfinger hadn't decided what he would do after graduation in January. He was considering applying at the Mascotte Fire Department but also wanted to go to school to become an emergency-medical technician.
"I think he was doing this for me and his dad," his mother said.
"We were real proud of him."
Sarah Lundy can be reached at email@example.com or 352-742-5917.
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09-24-2005, 12:03 PM #1
Florida--Kevin Enfinger--Firefighter Trainee09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
"Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
03-06-2009, 10:41 PM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Tampa FL,
Kevin "DUMPLIN" was my cousin. That was the worst day in my young life. He is surely missed.
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