1. #1
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    Default New York Works to Determine if Firefighter's Death Was LODD

    New York Works to Determine if Firefighter's Death Was LODD

    JOHN ANDERSON
    Courtesy of the Wellsville Daily Reporter

    WELLSVILLE, N.Y.-- One day after Wellsville firefighter Ronald W. Thomas died trying to save a man and his teenage son, the state is working on determining that Thomas died in the line of duty.

    Wellsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Pinney is being assisted by state officials this morning in filing the proper paperwork.

    On Sunday around 2:30 p.m., Kevin Allen, 46, who was visiting family and fishing in the Derby, fell over the small falls and into a vortex, a spinning whirlpool-effect in the Genesee River. Emergency officials said his 16-year-old son, Dan Allen, went in to save him. Two others then went in and Thomas quickly went in to save them.

    Thomas died saving them.

    Pinney said Thomas' actions shed light on the dangers of being a volunteer rescue worker or firefighter. Many of his colleagues in the Wellsville Volunteer Fire Department were in the water trying to save him.

    "It's what you would have expected from Ron or anyone else in the emergency services," said Pinney. "That's why we're here and that is what we do. I'm sure that 99.9 percent of the members would have done the same thing. You don't calculate your own risk when you are out trying to help or save someone else."

    Thomas was a 35-year member of the Dyke Street Engine Company and a past captain and an officer.

    "He was a good interior firefighter, he was always good and always suited up," said Bob Madden, a firefighter with the Dyke Street Engine Company.

    Thomas wore interior tag 067 and his father-in-law, Dick Fleischman, was a past chief in the company.

    "Ron not only was one of the best when it came to fighting a fire, he was always helping the department and company," Madden said.

    Allegany County Fire Coordinator Paul Gallmann said this might be the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in about 40 years. There was an assistant chief of the Short Tract Department killed in the 60s.

    An autopsy is being performed to determine the exact cause of death.

    Funeral arrangements and account for family set

    Scott Thomas, the oldest son of Ron Thomas, is finishing up a final exam at college in Florida. As a result, the calling hours and funeral for his father's funeral will not take place until Sunday and Monday.

    Calling hours will be from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. on Sunday at the J.W. Embser Sons Funeral Home, 34 W. State St., Wellsville.

    The funeral will take place Monday. The time and details have not been announced.

    An account has been set up at First Citizens National Bank in Ronald Thomas' name. The family does have unexpected medical bills. Roger Ramsey of Computer Solutions on Main Street in Wellsville has made a $50 donation.

    "I sponsored two $25 fish in the Wellsville Trout Derby. One of them was caught," explained Ramsey, who only had to pay out $25 because only one fish was caught. "However, I am donating the entire $50 and I hope others will match this."

    Republished with permission of the Wellsville Daily Reporter.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=54561
    Last edited by DrParasite; 05-03-2007 at 12:24 PM. Reason: additionalal information learned
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    Is the LODD question because it wasn't an "official incident" when he went in to attempt the rescue?
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    Default additional information

    Spring fishing derby turns tragic in Wellsville
    Volunteer firefighter dies trying to save two from whirlpool
    By Maki Becker - NEWS STAFF REPORTER

    It was a gorgeous spring day on Sunday — perfect for fathers and sons to come together for an afternoon of fishing at the annual Great Wellsville Trout Derby.

    But the popular community event turned tragic when a volunteer firefighter died trying to rescue another man and his teenage son who had become trapped in a powerful whirlpool.

    The firefighter’s own son nearly drowned trying to save his dad.

    The heartbreaking chain of events began at about 2:20 p.m.

    About 2,700 people had descended on Wellsville to take part in the Lions Club-sponsored trout derby on the Genesee River. Cash prizes and some serious bragging rights were at stake.

    Kevin Allen, 46, had waded into 3 feet of water in a spot just below the Weidrick Road Bridge. With him was his 16-year-old son, Dan.

    Kevin Allen suddenly lost his footing and tumbled down a small waterfall.

    “The father got caught up in what was like a whirlpool,” explained Wellsville Fire Chief David Pinney. “It pulled him down.”

    Seeing that his father was in peril, Dan reached over to try to reach his hand. “He, too, went over [the waterfall],” Pinney said.

    Among those fishing nearby were Ronald W. Thomas, 56, a volunteer firefighter with the Wellsville department, and his son, Ryan, 23.

    A 35-year veteran of the Dyke Street Engine Company, Ronald Thomas recognized the danger Allen and his son were in and raced into the water to try to help.

    Several other people also made their way toward the dangerous current.

    “I heard some yelling,” said Jeffrey Fredericks, 63, who was fishing nearby when the commotion broke out. “I ran over and saw bodies rolling in the waterfall. . . . There’s a tremendous undertow there.”

    Kevin Allen managed to break free of the whirlpool’s grasp and made his way to safety. “Save my son!” he yelled to bystanders. “Save my son!”

    Dan Allen was soon able to wade over to a rock and was rescued.

    But Ronald Thomas, whose waders had filled with water, police said, remained stuck in the swirling water — and his son went in after him.

    Ryan Thomas “kept [his father] above the water,” Fredericks said. “They were rolling around, but he grabbed hold of him and wouldn’t let go.”

    People on the river’s edge yelled: “Save yourself!” They could see that the man Ryan Thomas was holding was beyond saving.

    But Fredericks said Ryan Thomas refused to let go “until finally, he couldn’t do it anymore.”

    “By then, one man had gotten this long branch and he got over into the water to the current as far as he could, and extended the branch out,” Fredericks said.

    Fredericks said the man pleaded with Ryan Thomas: “Please let go and grab this.”

    Fredericks described how “with his last energy, [Ryan Thomas] grabbed hold of it and they managed to pull him out.”

    Fredericks’ wife, Bonnie, a nurse, ran over to tend to Ryan Thomas. “He was in shock,” Jeffrey Fredericks said. “They turned him over and worked the water out of him. It was unreal.”

    Fredericks said he was in awe of Ryan Thomas’s selflessness. He did not know at the time that Ryan was Ronald Thomas’ son.

    “Ryan stayed until the bitter end, long after the man was dead,” he said. “He just wouldn’t quit. He was going to give his own life.”

    Several minutes after Ryan Thomas was pulled from the water, the current set Ronald Thomas’ body free. His fellow firefighters who had been dispatched to the scene recovered his body downstream.

    They tried to resuscitate him, but Ronald Thomas was beyond saving. He was pronounced dead at Jones Memorial Hospital.

    The Allens, Ryan Thomas and at least one other man who had participated in the rescue were also taken to Jones Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and discharged.

    The death was under investigation Monday by state police and an autopsy was scheduled, but investigators are calling the incident an accidental drowning.

    Monday, Chief Pinney remembered Ronald Thomas as “an all-around good guy.”

    “He was willing to help whenever he was available to do whatever he could,” Pinney said.

    Ronald Thomas, who worked for Alstom-Mayer Air Preheater Co. in Wellsville, is survived by his wife, Sue, a daughter, Katie, and two sons, Scott and Ryan.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    http://www.buffalonews.com/102/story/65713.html
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    The whole thing seems to be a bit ambiguous. I'll try to explain:

    1) It was a gorgeous spring day on Sunday — perfect for fathers and sons to come together for an afternoon of fishing at the annual Great Wellsville Trout Derby.

    2) Among those fishing nearby were Ronald W. Thomas, 56, a volunteer firefighter with the Wellsville department, and his son, Ryan, 23.

    3) Several minutes after Ryan Thomas was pulled from the water, the current set Ronald Thomas’ body free. His fellow firefighters who had been dispatched to the scene recovered his body downstream.

    It looks like he was a participant to the derby, and "happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and naturally he became a hero." {That is actually a movie quote, but I think it appropriately sums up his actions}

    While he was not actively on duty at the start of events, his unit was called - as such it would be appropriate to give him LODD status. I am sure his station will even if the City/County do not.

    Sad turn of events, and my prayers and best wishes to the families involved.

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    This can lean either way.

    I believe volunteers are on duty 24/7, but he wasn't necessarily dispatched to that incident, so i don't know.

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    Default The timing of when you are performing your official duties

    To all involved my prayers. Ronald was a firefighter. He swore an oath to protect lives & property. He gave up his life trying to do just that. Case closed. Unfortunately we have to go through the fine print. If we back up a bit & consider what would happen if Ronald injured his back in this same incident. I know most folks & I feel this was a line of duty injury. However, the insurance company may not & in many cases the “company” is the town or group of towns that are self-insured. With so many people without health insurance the “company" can be very tough. From my own experience with NJ Workman’s Comp, a volunteer is covered from the time of dispatch, in route, during & returning from an incident. Injured during a scheduled training drill your covered. You would not be covered driving to that drill because there was no emergency & no dispatch. Walking to the firehouse in a snowstorm to shovel the driveway & slip a block away you’re on your own. Slip on the firehouse driveway you’re covered under property insurance. Unfortunately it comes down to the timing of when you are performing your official duties.

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    Lou, you have made some very valid and very important points. Pretty much the same would apply in Canada too, for the same reasons. Although, except for specific timing, a good lawyer might make a case that because it was his station that was dispatched, so in very loose technical terms, it could be said he was "on the job", just got there before the dispatch was actually made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post
    Lou, you have made some very valid and very important points. Pretty much the same would apply in Canada too, for the same reasons. Although, except for specific timing, a good lawyer might make a case that because it was his station that was dispatched, so in very loose technical terms, it could be said he was "on the job", just got there before the dispatch was actually made.
    What I know as one who works in NY, you are not on duty until dispatch puts you on duty. Up until that point you are nothoing more that just another citizen. If he was on duty, shouldn't he have had the proper PPE to include a life vest, and shouldn't he have had a rope or something as well. I'm thinking if he is considered to be on duty then there might be some OSHA vilations here.

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    He's a good semairitan!!!!!! If I drown while fishing helping someone who fell over board, it would not be a LODD It would be a rescue gone bad.... He was a wood be rescuer who was also a firefighter.... Not on duty, not responding with his company, Just in the right place at the time but with a bad outcome.... Reach, Throw, Row and go... Unless he was a swift water firefighter, who would have recognized the dangers of a dam spillway... I was a rescue Swimmer in the navy and wouldn't even attempt swimming in those waters without a PFD. Just because he was a firefighter and died trying to help Others while off duty fishing, Does not mean it was in the line of duty..... It falls under Good Semairitian.

    You are not on duty until you are dispatched, or toned out to a incident.

    My condolances to his family and brothers. RIP
    Last edited by plisken; 05-05-2007 at 08:06 PM.
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    Default rescue without proper PPE

    Your response reminds me a thread that ran over 300 responses. http://forums.firehouse.com/showthre...=81115&page=16
    Attempting a rescue without proper PPE. Tough place to find yourself

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    This is going to be one of those squiggly grey lines separating LODD vs good samaritan. There are valid arguments for both sides in both directions.

    LODD:
    - It was his district
    - He would have been dispatched anyway
    - He would have been there once dispatched anyway

    I think to say he "wasn't dispatched yet" is a silly game of semantics to not give someone the death benefits. Using time of dispatch to determine "on-duty" is silly. The emergency started when he fell in the water, not when the dispatcher pressed the button. He happened to be at the scene of the emergency before the tones went off. Response time zero. That is a great thing. Actions afterwards were not so bright (more on this later). I'd be willing to bet that if he was only injured and not killed, there would be no argument about workman's comp or whatever paying for the sustained injuries.

    I think the real argument here should be about actions. Diving into the water at the bottom of a low overhead dam with no equipment is about the same as running into a fully involved structure fire, balloon frame no less, in shorts and a t-shirt carrying a can a gasoline. It is a death trap and we should all know better.

    So lets look at it this way. If he ran into that burning house to save a known trapped occupant with no gear in a house that any firefighter should know is beyond rescue, would we consider him an LODD?

    I suspect most of our answers would be yes but with big huge "WHY!!!" attached. It is pretty much the standard that it is concidered an LODD even if the death is a result of stupidity.
    Last edited by nmfire; 05-06-2007 at 06:30 PM.
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    On face value, plisken is correct, at the time of his death, he was not working in an official capacity. So it would not be a LODD.
    Now that in-of-itself is the real question. He was in his own city, he is a trained responder in that cities emergency services, and he is known to be in this capacity. So at what point does a "duty to act" come into play, and even more important, as a city emergency responder, is he required to act and at what level? Or worse, if it is assumed he should, being the fact he is a trained responder for the city, and didn't, would he be negligent? All questions that need to be answered.
    Now rfdlou is trying to compare this to the attempting a rescue with out turn-outs. In this instance, the only comparison would be; with an individuals training, is this a calculated risk with the end result being a successful outcome? What was his training in water rescue?
    Now being a firefighter and trained in swift water rescue, I would take my chances on a making a rescue from fire. Anyone trained in swift water knows low head dams are nothing more than drowning machines.
    Now personally, not to belittle the bravery and dedication of this individual, I don't believe it is a LODD. But an act of unselfish courage. But he was not on duty at the time, but enjoying some down time with friends and family. I hope his fire department and city honor him as he deserves it.
    Now I don't need some volly telling me you are on-duty 24/7/365 because that's BS. You are on duty when you answer the call in a capacity to properly respond to the situation.
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    I am sorry for the family, the department and the community. However he was a good samaritian only
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    On face value, plisken is correct, at the time of his death, he was not working in an official capacity. So it would not be a LODD.
    Now that in-of-itself is the real question. He was in his own city, he is a trained responder in that cities emergency services, and he is known to be in this capacity. So at what point does a "duty to act" come into play, and even more important, as a city emergency responder, is he required to act and at what level? Or worse, if it is assumed he should, being the fact he is a trained responder for the city, and didn't, would he be negligent? All questions that need to be answered.
    Now rfdlou is trying to compare this to the attempting a rescue with out turn-outs. In this instance, the only comparison would be; with an individuals training, is this a calculated risk with the end result being a successful outcome? What was his training in water rescue?
    Now being a firefighter and trained in swift water rescue, I would take my chances on a making a rescue from fire. Anyone trained in swift water knows low head dams are nothing more than drowning machines.
    Now personally, not to belittle the bravery and dedication of this individual, I don't believe it is a LODD. But an act of unselfish courage. But he was not on duty at the time, but enjoying some down time with friends and family. I hope his fire department and city honor him as he deserves it.
    Now I don't need some volly telling me you are on-duty 24/7/365 because that's BS. You are on duty when you answer the call in a capacity to properly respond to the situation.

    Wellsville is not a city. It's a small village in the southern tier of NY in the middle of nowhere. The area is served by volunteers not paid folks. As a volunteer you are not on duty 24/7 365. If that were the case anytime I got hurt or injured I could call it an on the job injury. You aren't on duty until the tones go off. The next question is - If you are the one being rescued are you on duty?

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