GALLIPOLIS -- Gallipolis firefighters today are mourning the loss of one of their own. Veteran volunteer firefighter Richard A. Long died of injuries he suffered when the pumper truck he was driving to a brush fire Thursday went off County Road 94 (Raccoon) and overturned.
Long, 56, of 335 Green Terrace Court, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 12:50 p.m. accident by Dr. Daniel H. Whiteley, Gallia County coroner.
A 30-year member of the Gallipolis Volunteer Fire Department, Long was retired from M&G Polymers at Apple Grove, W.Va.. He was the sole occupant of the pumper, one of two trucks dispatched to the brush fire at 3039 Raccoon Road in Clay Township.
Gallipolis Police Chief Roger Brandeberry, acting as a spokeman for the fire department, said Long's death is a great loss for the department and the whole city.
"I've been around Richard since probably about 1979," Brandeberry said. "He was one of the most well-liked firemen over there. Always a willing worker, always worked hard." Grief counselors were on hand Thursday afternoon to assist Long's fellow firefighters through the tragedy.
"It's going to be hard to lose not just a co-worker, but a good friend," Brandeberry said. "Our thoughts are with his family."
City Manager Bob Gordon said this morning that for more than 30 years, Long exemplified the loyalty and dedication that is evident in all firefighters.
"He will be remembered not only through tears and memorials, but also through the efforts of the 32 fellow firefighters who will continue to rise and respond to the call of duty with the same dedication," Gordon said.
"The members of the Gallipolis Volunteer Fire Department are assured that the spirit of their absent colleague will always be by their side."
The fire department was called to the brush fire at 12:42 p.m., Gallia County 9-1-1 reported. The pumper driven by Long was the first vehicle on the road, followed by a brush truck.
Firefighters Joe Carter and Ronnie Phillips, en route to the brush fire in private vehicles, came upon the accident and called 9-1-1.
Sgt. Brian Rutherford of the State Highway Patrol's Gallia-Meigs Post said
Long was eastbound about 0.3 of a mile east of Ohio Route 218, when the pumper, a 2003 Freightliner, rounded a left-hand curve. Long applied the brakes and because of the speed at which the pumper was moving, the weight of the water in the vehicle's tank shifted, causing the right side tires to go off the right edge of the road. The vehicle began rotating counter-clockwise and then came back on the road, Rutherford said.
The pumper's rear began to spin clockwise and the truck slid off the left side of the road, where it struck a stone pile, telephone junction box and mailbox.
The vehicle then rolled once, coming to rest on the passenger side, Rutherford said. Long was wearing a seatbelt, he added. Rutherford described the damage to the truck's hood, top of the cab and equipment bay as "horrendous." The pumper was towed from the scene.
Rutherford said the accident remains under investigation. "It's unknown at this time if we can perform a speed analysis because we can