1. #1
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    Angry Junior Firefighter Killed In Flooding

    I'm suprised this story hasn't already made the FH.com front page and, thus, the forums. Certainly, this is a sad -- and preventable -- death.

    Boy’s body found after flooding
    Junior fireman, 16, was on rescue mission with stepfather
    BY KENNETH HEARD AND ANDY DAVIS ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

    Christopher Bodkins, 16, loved being a volunteer junior fireman and was on a rescue mission Saturday morning when the raging waters of Martin Creek swept him away to his death.

    Family members found Bodkins’ body along the creek bank at 11 p.m. Saturday when the waters receded, about 35 yards from where a vehicle driven by his stepfather, Bill Cossey, the assistant fire chief of the Williford Volunteer Fire Department, was washed off a lowwater bridge.

    Rescue workers called off their search at dark Sunday for a man presumed missing from River Bend Park, a campsite for camper trailers and recreational vehicles about two miles north of Hardy along the Spring River. A friend told authorities that Jackie Richardson, a former Trumann fireman who lived in one of the park’s trailers, was last seen clutching a tree branch when 12 feet of water cascaded from the Spring River into the park.

    “We’ve narrowed down the search [for Richardson],” Hardy Fire Chief Lonnie Phelps said. “We hope we find him soon.”

    The search is to resume today.

    Bodkins, a ninth-grade student from Williford, was responding Saturday night to a 911 call on Martin Creek Road about eight miles east of Hardy with his stepfather and Cliff King, a 21-year-old friend who was spending the night at Cossey’s Williford home. A woman and three children were trapped by rising waters in a cabin along Martin Creek Road north of U.S. 63.

    Heavy rainfall accompanying a series of storms that swept through Sharp County and northern Arkansas on Friday evening and Saturday morning had forced creeks and rivers out of their banks.

    Cossey, who was driving a Toyota Corolla, said Sunday that he topped a hill on Martin Creek Road about one-half mile north of U.S. 63 and then descended into a valley where there was a lowwater crossing. Authorities incorrectly said Saturday that Bodkins was driving the car.

    “The water hit us and we started sliding,” Cossey said.

    King, who sat in the back seat of Cossey’s vehicle, escaped through the back door.

    “I told Christopher to get out,” Cossey said. “The last thing I saw before my head went underwater was Christopher crawling out of the window.”

    Bill Cossey escaped through the driver’s side window, but was swept downstream.

    “I can’t swim a lick,” he said. “I busted around trying to hold onto something.”


    He grabbed tree limbs, but the roiling waters snapped them, sending him farther downstream.

    King grabbed a flashlight and ran along the creek bank, shining the light on Cossey. He spent nearly two hours in the water, yelling questions about his stepson.

    “I was trying to hold on, but I kept asking about Christopher,” he said. “The light would flash up and down at times and I thought they were saying he was OK. I’d ask again and the light didn’t move.”

    Cossey was rescued by boat, taken to an ambulance where he warmed up and then began searching for Bodkins.

    Saturday evening, searchers found Cossey’s car about 200 yards from the crossing.

    Officials called off the search at 7 p.m., Saturday because of darkness. But residents of the small eastern Sharp County town of 63 weren’t deterred by nightfall.

    “The locals kept on searching,” said Dudley Louvier, acting mayor of Williford. “They got their flashlights and kept on searching.”

    An uncle found Bodkins’ body about 35 yards downstream from Cossey’s car at 11 p.m. Saturday, Louvier said.

    Rescuers from 10 counties, including Shelby County, Tenn., assisted in the search for both Bodkins and Richardson.

    “We appreciate everybody showing up,” Cossey said. “We didn’t get to thank them.”

    Bodkins was remembered as being enthusiastic about his role as a junior volunteer firefighter. He didn’t battle fires, but gladly rolled up fire hoses and helped with other chores whenever asked, Cossey said.

    “He was always the first in the car,” Cossey said. “The pager would go off, calling us out, and he’d be, ‘C’mon, let’s go.’”

    Visitation will be held for Bodkins from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Williford High School gymnasium. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Tri-County Cherokee Chapel in Hardy, with burial to follow at the Cossey Family Cemetery in Williford.

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    I guess this will re-open the is a junior firefighter a firefighter controversy.

    Good Luck to to the family and department on getting the recognition this firefighter he deserves.

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    What a tragedy, my most heart felt condolences to the family.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    I guess this will re-open the is a junior firefighter a firefighter controversy. Good Luck to to the family and department on getting the recognition this firefighter he deserves.
    Actually, I hope this opens up a manslaughter controversy. A volunteer firefighter WHO CAN'T SWIM drives his passenger car -- with a teenager and a non-firefighter on board -- over a low-water bridge during SEVERE flooding? What the heck was he thinking?

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    We do not have juniors here. My question why was he going on a call?

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    I lived in this area and my great grandmother still does. My thoughts and prayers to the families there.


    I know paid firefighters who cant swim, I dont know many vollie departments that have a swimming requirement. But anyhow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE
    We do not have juniors here. My question why was he going on a call?
    we have juniors here. They are allowed to respond to calls. Try to limit them to 1 or 2 per truck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bfdtruckie12
    I know paid firefighters who cant swim, I dont know many vollie departments that have a swimming requirement. But anyhow.
    This isn't a career or volunteer issue. This is a decision-making ability issue. If you can't swim -- career or volunteer -- then you don't have any business attempting water rescues. Also, if you are driving a vehicle -- apparatus or POV -- you don't drive over a low-water bridge during HEAVY flooding. This guy did both. Not only did he do both... But he did them with a non-member and a teenager in the car with him.

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    Pardon my ignorance, but what is a "low-water bridge?" I don't think I'm familiar with the term.

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    Post A low water crossing is

    A low water crossing (also known as an Irish bridge or low water bridge) provides a bridge when water flow is low. Under high flow conditions, water runs over the roadway and precludes vehicular traffic. This approach is cheaper than building a bridge to raise the level of the road above the highest flood stage of a river, particularly in developing countries or in semi-arid areas with rare high-volume rain.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief310
    Pardon my ignorance, but what is a "low-water bridge?" I don't think I'm familiar with the term.
    The low water bridges in our area are concrete bridges built over creeks streams and rivers. They are not elevated and therefore the roadway is not very far above the standing water level. So when you have heavy rain there can be several inches of water over the bridge.

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    Yeah, what Coldfront said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE
    We do not have juniors here. My question why was he going on a call?
    Im a Junior firefighter, and i respond to any and all calls that i can make. What trucks you can ride is dependent on your training (vehicle rescue to ride rescue, structure to ride first engine, etc.) I have all my required training, so i am allowed on any call i respond to.
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    This is a very tragic incident that could have been avoided. First my thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young man. I'm sure we will hear more on this incident as the investigation is ongoing. Yes a bad decision was made allowing this teenager to participate in this type of incident. If he was not allowed to fight fires why would you allow him to participate in a water rescue incident. I started out a as Junior but we had rules and regulations to follow. We were there to learn the basics about the fire service, preparing us for the future. We were allowed to ride the rig to calls but we were limited to our participation. I not against a Junior squad program, if you have such a program learn from this incident and make sure your not allowing the JUNIOR members of your department participate, teach them it will save them and other firefighters down the road. Again, to the family, friends, and members of your department our prayers are with each of you. STAY SAFE.

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    Post Volunteer FD,s can be covered by child labor laws/OSHA

    Follow the law! Adolescent workers are protected by two laws enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL):

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) Act. Each state also has child labor laws. Employers must comply with both federal and state laws. When federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to youth workers will apply.
    The FLSA and state laws provide child labor provisions that were designed to protect childern!


    Employers must make any employees exposed to hazardous materials aware of the hazards and train them to protect themselves from these hazards [1910.1200].



    A vounteer fire department junior program may under the law have a empolyee employer relationship!Keep juniors in the station.No high risk operations.
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    Our Juniors may come to the scene on the third truck. When at the scene, they are used as runners and they work the rehab area, making sure bottles are changed out, enough water is on hand, stuff like that. On large incidents, the Chief has used them as recorders.

    When they turn 18, they have a good sense of scene safety, they understand the importance of rehab, and a really good grasp of the incident command system.

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    A tragidy for the families and my condolances go out to them, but...
    What type a fabulous rescue was going to be attempted in their personal vehicle? Is it customary for this department to have swift water rescue equipment stored in a chiefs POV?
    I swear, we can be our own worse enemies...
    Last edited by SPFDRum; 09-28-2006 at 07:11 PM. Reason: lousy spelling
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    A tragidy for the families and my condolances go out to them, but...
    What type a fabulous rescue was going to be attempted in their personal vehicle?

    I swear, we can be are own worse enemies...

    I agree completely.

    I will also say that children have no place at any type of emergency scene, period.

    Also, why is that when someone says there is a difference between vollunteer and career, everyone kicks and screams, and criticizes that position. My department is all career, and we don't let kids ride our rigs.

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    Junior firefighter or not, I have to admire that this 16 year old, instead of sitting in front of the TV playing video games and doing other teen age activities, he chose to follow his heart in trying to help others.
    Tragic and my condolences to his family and fire department.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefReason
    Junior firefighter or not, I have to admire that this 16 year old, instead of sitting in front of the TV playing video games and doing other teen age activities, he chose to follow his heart in trying to help others.
    Tragic and my condolences to his family and fire department.
    CR
    I agree. I just wish we'd stop killing members of the next generation of firefighters by putting them in harms way much too soon. SPFDRum is right, we can be our own worst enemy.

  21. #21
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    Such a sad story.

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    A sad story. I think sometimes we as firefighters recognize the danger level of fires because they are our primary focus. I believe we dont fully appreciate the danger to ourselves at rescues.

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    Default thoughts and prayers

    Such a tragic incident. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. I am glad there are junior FF's who bring all their enthusiasm and hard work to this job. Sounds like some errors in judgment regarding the attempted water rescue. Everybody stay safe and may that young fellow rest in peace.

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    Default Questions????

    I would like to know if this FD had an organized junior FF program or was this a way to get a few more members. Further I would like to know if anyone actually was incharge of the training of the juniors or did they sit in on firefighter training. I am also from Arkansas and we have tried to organize a junior program but, our county and state insurance will not allow coverage until you have reached 18 yr old. Just tring to read between the lines......
    Last edited by RES81CUE; 09-29-2006 at 08:47 AM. Reason: more thought

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    Unfortuantly, attempted water rescues are a major killer of firefighters in general.

    Water rescues happen so infrequently in most departments that we neither spend much time training for them, or spend much money purchasing the right equipment. So when they do happen, most departments make the effort without the any training and without the right safety equipment.

    Unfortunatly, I have no answers for this situation as in tight budget times it's difficult for most departments to justify the purchase of equipment that may be used once every 5 years, and it's difficult to justify limited training time and/or dollars on a skill that will be used rarely (if ever) when there are so many basic, everyday training needs.

    Flooding can happen anywhere, and honestly most folks, including most firefighters don't recognize the dangers (often die to lack of training) of even relativly slow-moving water. Water rescues can happen on even the mildest rivers and smallest ponds and lakes, yet many deepartments that have these in thier areas (and most do in some form) aren't prepared in terms of training or equipment. Is there an answer? Maybe that should be a focus of discussion.

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