PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY FIREFIGHTER GAVE HIS ALL
By Joseph P Cirone
WOODBRIDGE, VA (April 16, 2007; Updated on April 18, 2007 as additional details became available) – Prince William County firefighter (Technician I) Kyle Robert Wilson, 24 years-old, lost his life while helping to fight an early morning, three-alarm fire at 15474 Marsh Overlook Drive in Woodbridge, VA today.
“This is a very sad day for Technician Wilson’s family; the department; the County and firefighters everywhere,” said Prince William County Fire Chief Mary Beth Michos, in a prepared statement.
Technician Wilson, a member of the department since January, 2006, graduated from the County’s Public Safety Academy and was assigned to Fire Station 12, according to a statement made by Fire Chief Michos at a department news conference.
At the time of his death, Technician Wilson was helping staff Tower 512 and was among the first responders to the scene. Prince William County firefighters responded to the initial report of fire in the home at 6:02 a.m., according to a written statement issued by the County earlier in the day.
“When firefighters arrived on the scene, the home was heavily involved in fire,” the County’s statement said. At 6:09 a.m., Engine 512, Tower 512 and Medic 512 were the first units arriving on the scene. Fire was visible on one side and the rear of the home’s exterior. Almost immediately, additional fire and rescue units were requested, followed by another request (third-alarm) a short time later.
Heavy winds, with gusts in excess of 55 miles-per-hour were reported in the area throughout the preceding night and during the time of the fire, according to the National Weather Service, helping fan the flames and create an even more hazardous condition. “The severe wind conditions had an effect on the intensity and rapid spread of the fire,” fire officials said in a written statement.
Vehicles were parked in the driveway and garage, causing firefighters to suspect the structure was still occupied, according to a written statement issued by the County. Firefighters began conducting a search for occupants possibly trapped inside of the two-story building.
Technician Wilson and Fire Lieutenant Jason Reese went to the second floor of the home to begin search and rescue efforts. “The bedroom door suddenly slammed shut,” while the two were in the large master bedroom, according to the statement. Not locating anyone inside of the bedroom, they opened the door; entered the hallway, intending to search the remainder of the second floor, but encountered “zero visibility and extraordinary intense heat,” a preliminary review conducted by a task force of internal and external investigators has revealed.
Recognizing the deteriorating fire conditions, the two began efforts to exit the building. “At this point a catastrophic fire event occurred,” the review determined. Thick black smoke and intense heat quickly developed about the same time as the roof and ceiling collapsed into the second floor. “The force of this event separated Lieutenant Reese and Technician Wilson.” Reese was knocked down the stairs, while Wilson “was forced in a different direction,” the preliminary investigation determined.
At 6:15 a.m., Technician Wilson initiated and emergency radio call for help and activated his emergency alert button. “Valiant attempts” to locate and rescue Technician Wilson were made by Lieutenant Reese and several other crews of firefighters, fire officials stated. During the rescue attempt, Lieutenant Reese suffered second degree burns to both of his ears and one finger.
Rescuers were forced to withdraw when the structure began to collapse, according to Assistant Fire Chief Kevin McGee, in a published report.
It was later learned that at the time of the fire, seven occupants were in the home, but escaped without injury.
At the department’s news conference, Chief Michos called the efforts made by other firefighters to save Technician Wilson, “heroic.” She acknowledged their risking their own lives in the attempt to save him. The rescue efforts were again acknowledged and called heroic when a fire dispatcher made a general announcement and read a statement announcing the loss to volunteer firefighters on-duty at the County’s 19 fire stations, at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Technician Wilson’s death was the first line of duty loss the 41 year-old department has experienced. Michos said, “Our grief knows no bounds.”
Chief Michos, with a background in nursing; emergency medical services; and management, a nationally recognized, widely acclaimed and respected leader in the fire and rescue service, is overseeing investigative; grief-related morale and stress situations; and the public memorial services, as well as other efforts on various fronts, concurrently.
She assured that Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and other resources that might be needed were available for department members to deal with the tragedy. Care and comfort to members at the scene were provided by a department chaplain, as well. Chief Michos and Assistant Chiefs Kevin McGee; Brett Bowman and Hadden Culp personally visited fire stations throughout the county, speaking to career and volunteer personnel about the incident.
After commenting that the fire and rescue department member’s thoughts and prayers were with the Wilson family, Michos vowed to do everything possible to support Wilson’s family during the grieving period. “I made personal notification to Technician Wilson’s family this morning and conveyed our deepest sympathy and sadness for their immense loss,” Michos stated.
Upon learning of the tragedy, citizens expressed condolences and words of support to members of the department. Community groups and neighboring departments offered support and help. Offers of help and condolences from state and federal agencies and from around the world have been received, according to officials. In her statement, Michos thanked them all. Word of the loss spread quickly, despite the intensive media coverage of mass shootings at the Virginia Tech campus, which began around 7 a.m.
Technician Wilson is survived by his parents, a brother, sister and girlfriend; all residents of the County.
Prince William County Police, as well as fire and rescue personnel from neighboring Fairfax County and other counties are wearing black bands on their uniform badges and flags are flying at half mast at County buildings, as well as fire and rescue stations, as signs of respect for Technician Wilson and his family.
A Memorial Fund for Technician Wilson’s family has been established by the Prince William Professional Fire Fighters local of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Donated funds will be used to assist the Wilson family. Checks made out to the Kyle Wilson Fund may be sent to the Prince William Professional Fire Fighters at 5521 Mapledale Plaza in Dale City, VA 22193. Additional information may be obtained by calling 703-597-1080.
The Prince William County Police Department; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Montgomery County, MD Fire Department (from which Chief Michos hails) are assisting the Prince William County Fire Marshal’s Office in performing what Michos termed, “a complete investigation.”
No other injuries were reported at the scene. Damage to the single family home, which was valued at $745, 200 is estimated to $650,000, according to fire investigators. The Prince William County Fire Marshal’s Office is continuing to investigate the fire’s cause and origin.
An internal review of operational procedures and the investigation into the loss of Technician Wilson is also continuing. “The initial reports demonstrate that Fire and Rescue crews were following procedure,” according to the preliminary review. “It will be many months before the investigation is complete and a final report is released,” the County’s statement cautioned.
Chief Michos reminded department members and others, that firefighting is a dangerous occupation, even with the best training and equipment. “There are risks our firefighters face everyday,” Michos concluded.
Technician I/Firefighter Kyle Robert Wilson of Fire Station 12, Tower 512, will not soon be forgotten. Although a relatively new firefighter, he died doing what he loved; doing his job and trying to help others. Many, including me, will forever hold his name in high regard. His name, story and photo will forever be on my website page and in our collective minds.
As the saying goes – “God must have one heck of a fire department in Heaven.” We are sure that Firefighter Wilson is its newest member. God be with you, Brother!
TECHNICIAN I / FIREFIGHTER KYLE ROBERT WILSON – WE SALUTE YOU!
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04-20-2007, 01:49 PM #1
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F/F Kyle R. Wilson - Prince William County, VA - Gave His All!
Last edited by jpcirone; 04-20-2007 at 01:53 PM.
04-20-2007, 01:51 PM #2
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My heart goes out to Kyle's friends, family and department.
04-20-2007, 04:03 PM #3
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