Wis. Fire Chief Dies of Heart Attack After Call

Rothschild (Wis.) Fire Chief Steven W. Fritz died of an apparent heart attack on Monday, Dec. 10, after responding to an emergency call earlier in the day, according to the U.S. Fire Administration which declared the incident an on-duty death.

Fritz, 58, fell ill at his residence and members of the Rothschild Fire/EMS Department responded and transported him to Saint Clare’s Hospital, in Weston, Wis., were he died.

The USFA, in its preliminary findings, said stress/overexertion resulting in an after action heart attack was the cause of death.

The local newspaper, Wausau Daily Herald, reported that Fritz had been the chief of the fire and EMS department since 2007 and worked at Domtar, a paper mill across a four-lane road from the fire station.

He had been on the department 13 years before he was hired as the department’s paid, on-call chief to replace Bill Paduan. Paduan resigned in December 2006 and died in 2010 from complications associated with leukemia, according to the newspaper.

He was a well-liked chief and people often noticed Fritz crossing the busy road daily during his lunch hour to check on the station and its personnel’s activities.

On Monday evening, his department members were called to his home after he was found unresponsive. He reportedly had been watching television and napping when he apparently suffered a heart attack.

According to the newspaper, Fritz was a 1972 graduate of D.C. Everest High School in Weston, Wis., and studied electronic services at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, Wis., where he was also an EMS adjunct instructor for many years. He worked at the paper mill in Rothschild for nearly 40 years.

Until a new chief is hired, Assistant Fire Chief Glen Engebretson will likely serve as the acting chief, the newspaper reported.

Visitations will be Friday, Dec. 14 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Rothschild and again on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the service starts at 11 a.m. with Pastor Richard Block officiating.

Burial will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.