Washington Firefighter Dies During Physical Training

A Washington state firefighter died of a heart attack in the line of duty Monday during a regular physical training exercise.

Richard J. Tiffany, 35, had just been hired by Clark County Fire District 12 in Ridgefield in May 2003. He had previously worked as a paramedic in the county for 12 years, and then went through the fire academy to become a full time firefighter/paramedic. He was also still working part time for American Medical Response.

Tiffany and one other firefighter were on duty at the station Monday evening and were exercising together when he was stricken.

"He'd done about two miles, stepped off the treadmill and then collapsed," said fire district spokesman Henry Von Dem Fange.

Lt. Gary Deschand found Tiffany unconscious but with a pulse. He immediately called 911, but then came back and found no pulse. The firefighter started CPR, used a defibrillator, and administered oxygen. "He did all the correct things," Von Dem Fange said. "It was just not a survivable event." Tiffany was declared dead at the station.

Von Dem Fange said the cardiac arrest came as a complete shock, because Tiffany had so recently passed a physical and gone through the fire academy with no problems.

After 12 years in the Clark County EMS community, Tiffany was well liked and well respected, Von Dem Fange said. He is survived by his wife LeaAnn and his sons, Richard, 15, and Jonathan, 9.

Von Dem Fange said Tiffany used to be a medic in the Navy and described him as very neat, very active in the LDS Church, and very family oriented. He said the church is helping the family and that numerous fire departments have called to offer firefighters their support. This is the first line of duty death in District 12's history. The spokesman said firefighters and local AMR paramedics have been through several debriefings.

A procession will begin from District 12's downtown Ridge Station Saturday at 9 a.m. with most vehicles joining at 10th Ave.

A funeral will be held at the Vancouver N. Stake Center, 11101 N.E. 199th St., Ridgefield, WA on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

A fund has been established for Tiffany's family. Donations can be made to the Richard Tiffany Family Fund at any First Independent Bank.


Clark County Fire District 12