New Jersey Firefighter Dies After 15-Year Coma

The U.S. Fire Administration is reporting the line-of-duty death of Camden, New Jersey firefighter George Jackson. He was 67.

Jackson served 24 years for the Camden Fire Department before he was severely injured on Oct. 21, 1990. The injuries occurred when Jackson and two other firefighters encountered rapid fire progress conditions while conducting a primary search of a residential structure, according to the USFA.

After remaining in a coma for more than 15 years, Jackson passed away on March 7 as a result of his injuries.

Kevin Hailey, Deputy Chief in charge of administration for the Camden Fire Department, served with Jackson for eight years before he went into the coma.

Hailey said that before his injuries, Jackson was the most decorated of the firefighters at his department and had the most number of civilian rescues.

"He was a no nonsense kind of guy," Hailey said. "He was the benchmark of what a ladderman should be."

Hailey said Jackson "was the type of firefighter that never had to be told what needed to be done."

According to Hailey, Jackson was part of the all-black Ladder 2 Fire Company in the early 1970s, then known as "The Soul Patrol."

Jesse Flax, 67, was a part of Ladder 2 and worked with Jackson for close to 20 years.

"We were extremely close friends, he was my best buddy," Flax said.

"He was a very conciencious firefighter," he said. "He was a good engine operator and ladderman."

68-year-old James Robinson, a former Captain for the Camden Fire Department who retired in 1996, remembered Jackson fondly.

"When George first came into the fire service, I had a bunch of older guys in the company with me that were about to retire," he said, noting that most of the men lacked the coordination needed to drive the trucks so he would let Jackson. "Man could he drive."

Robinson had great praise for both Jackson's skills and loyalty.

"George was a great engineer at anything he did," he said, adding that Jackson "always stayed there right with you when you had something to do,"

"He believed in doing his job and he did it very well," he said.

Funeral ceremonies were held March 14.