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Thread: Terre Haute, Indiana Firefighter's Life Claimed in Line of Duty

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    Terre Haute, Indiana Firefighter's Life Claimed in Line of Duty

    Terre Haute, Indiana Firefighter's Life Claimed in Line of Duty
    50 Year Old Days Shy of 24th Year with Department

    Courtesy WTWO Channel 2, Wabash Valley


    An early morning fire turns tragic, as a Terre Haute firefighter is killed in the line of duty. It`s been a very somber day in Terre Haute as the fire department has lost one of its own. Captain Ralph Stott was killed after a building collapsed during a fire Monday morning.

    In just a few days, 50-year-old Ralph Stott would have celebrated 24 years with the Terre Haute Fire Department. He`s described as a tell it like it is kind of guy with a quick wit and dedication to duty. Monday, he died in the line of duty, fighting a fire.

    It happened around 2:00am Monday morning at Russell`s Garage and Body Shop on North 25th Street. Firefighters were battling the blaze, when there was a large explosion, sending debris flying, and causing the facade to collapse forward on several firefighters. Ralph Stott was trapped under cement blocks, and two other men, lieutenant Russel Fequay and medic Barry Nicoson received minor injuries.

    Stott was a captain with station 11 and his loss is hitting the fire department very hard. The last firefighter to die in the line of duty in Terre Haute was John O

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    Firefighter Remembered as Mischievous Teddy Bear

    Firefighter Remembered as Mischievous Teddy Bear

    Stott enjoyed politics, urged friend Auler to run for City Council

    KARIN GRUNDEN and HOWARD GRENINGER
    Courtesy Tribune-Star


    Some knew Ralph Stott Jr. for his gruff and boisterous ways.

    Others knew much more was hidden under the Terre Haute fire captain's tough exterior.

    "He had a great big heart," said Chris Harrison of Rosedale, Stott's youngest sister.

    Tears welled in her eyes as she remembered her 50-year-old brother. He was killed Monday while fighting a fire, nine blocks from his home on the city's north side.

    At Fire Station No. 11, where Stott had served the last few years of his nearly 24-year career, a makeshift memorial began to form under the flag, which flew at half-staff.

    "This just hasn't soaked in," said city fire Lt. Clifford "Randy" Phillips, sitting outside the fire house at Maple Avenue and 26th Street. There, passersby honked their horns, dropped off food and stopped to give their condolences.

    As a firefighter, Stott may not have won awards but he did "most everything that we require," said Fire Chief John Brighton, who described the fire captain's death as the "ultimate sacrifice."

    For the co-workers having trouble coping with Stott's death, counseling was being offered, Brighton said.

    For some, just talking about their comrade proved the best kind of therapy.

    Phillips sat outside Station No. 11 with two other firefighters, recalling Stott as an outspoken character who'd "tell you like it is." Stott also loved to have fun and made the day go by quickly for those who worked beside him, Phillips said.

    When there were no fires to fight or other work to do, Stott could be found sitting in a recliner inside the fire house, sipping tea -- which he drank all day long -- and watching Westerns.

    On his hours away from the fire house, the avid New York Yankees fan looked after his parents and worked in the yard, he told his co-workers.

    Another of his loves was politics. "He thoroughly enjoyed it," said Elisha "Pee Wee" Hamblen, Stott's brother-in-law and the Fire Department's chief of operations.

    A Democratic precinct committeemen since 1984, Stott once encouraged a friend to start his own political career.

    Larry Auler, a retired fire captain who also served at Station No. 11, said Stott encouraged him to run against then 12-year incumbent Ray Azar for a seat on the Terre Haute City Council.

    "We were at the fire house one night and Ralph pumped me up to run and here I am," said Auler, who served almost two terms as a city councilman and is seeking a second term as Harrison Township Assessor.

    Even more than being a co-worker or inspiration for a political career, Stott "was the best friend I could have ... We were like brothers," said Auler, who has been asked to be a pallbearer at Thursday's funeral.

    And a brother was the one thing Stott didn't have. He did have four sisters, with Stott right in the middle.

    His two older siblings recalled tormenting, "Brother," as they called Stott, chasing him around the house and kicking at him as he hid under the bed or dining-room table. Usually, Mom would come to the rescue; he was a "momma's boy," after all, his sisters said.

    The sisters told stories of how the boy who loved ketchup sandwiches was constantly in trouble at school; how, to the chagrin of his mother, Stott once climbed the rafters as Plaza North was being built; and how he threw a rock through a car window when a neighbor asked him to "crack the window."

    "He was real mischievous," said sister Joyce Stott of Terre Haute, who suggested that her brother was probably responsible for a few of their mother's gray hairs.

    But there was the other side, too.

    "He was a big teddy bear," said his eldest sister, Linda Hamblen of Terre Haute.

    Stott, a child who eagerly awaited Christmas, was an adult known to drop off holiday baskets to his elderly neighbors, his sisters said.

    He also had a real heart for his family, his wife of four years and his two daughters.

    Stott, who himself had been injured in a car accident years back, was devastated when 17-year-old daughter Jessica was killed in a car crash four years ago. After her death, he became a "homebody," his family said.

    As his family looks back, no one's quite sure why Stott, a 1969 Garfield High School graduate, chose firefighting after a stint in the Army and working for the railroad.

    But it's something he seemed to enjoy and even sang about from his bathroom window, said his sister, Sue Hauser of Linton, who once lived next door to her older brother.

    Remembering him singing "they call me a fireman ... I love my truck," still makes her laugh.

    In the end, his sisters agree -- "Brother" was a good man, a good father, a good brother and ultimately "a true fireman."



    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/in_sep30b.html

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    Capt. Ralph Stott Dies in Facade Collapse

    Capt. Ralph Stott Dies in Facade Collapse

    PETER CIANCONE and KARIN GRUNDEN
    Courtesy Tribune-Star


    Terre Haute firefighters took less than three hours to put out the fire.

    It will take longer to extinguish the pain of losing one of their own.

    The collapse of a cinder block facade at an early morning fire Monday on North 25th Street took the life of 24-year veteran Capt. Ralph Stott, 50.

    Two other firefighters were injured. Paramedic Barry Nicoson underwent surgery for wrist and hand injuries. He was in good condition Monday afternoon in Union Hospital, said Lorrie Heber, spokeswoman for the hospital.

    Lt. Russell Feuquay was taken to the hospital with an ankle injury, said Chief John Brighton. He was treated and released, Heber said.

    Witnesses said they heard an explosion before the fire. The cause of the blaze is under investigation by several agencies.

    Darrell Cunningham, a neighbor to Russell's Garage and Body Shop at 3141 N. 25th St., said he heard its burglar alarm go off late Sunday night.

    "I never gave it much thought," he said. "It goes off all the time."

    About two hours later, he said, he heard a muffled explosion, looked out his back window and saw flames coming out the back of the garage. Cunningham said he called 911.

    Marie Block, whose house is closer to the building, said there was nothing muffled about the explosion.

    "The explosion shook the house," she said.

    Neither witness checked the time of the incidents.

    Brighton said four fire units and an ambulance were dispatched on the call at 2:04 a.m. Monday. The building, on the east side of 25th Street between Prairie and Steelton avenues, was in flames when units arrived.

    Battalion Chief Blaine Chandler led a group of firefighters around the west end of the building facing 25th Street to attack the blaze. Brighton said Chandler described walking toward their position.

    "[Chandler] told me he had his hand on Ralph's shoulder," Brighton said.

    The front of the building had a cinder block facade held up by steel cables.

    "From what I understand, it broke loose and fell forward," Brighton said. Chandler was directing where the team's fire hose would go. "The next thing [Chandler] knew, he was almost out by the street," knocked aside by the debris.

    Stott was caught underneath hundreds of pounds of cinder blocks.

    "They had to pull blocks off to get to him," Brighton said.

    Paramedics tried to resuscitate Stott at the scene. He was pronounced dead at 3 a.m. in Union Hospital, Brighton said. An autopsy was performed Monday afternoon, the results of which were unavailable.

    The business was owned by Larry Russell of Terre Haute, said Capt. Rick Erney of the Terre Haute Police Department. The building is owned by Thomas Osborn, who lives in Paris, Ill., according to records in the Vigo County Treasurer's Office. Neither Russell nor Osborn could be reached for comment.

    Investigators from Terre Haute fire and police departments sifted through the debris alongside teams from the State Fire Marshal's Office and investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

    Jeff Groh, Indianapolis ATF agent in charge, said his agency was asked to be involved. Three federal agents were on hand to assist with determining a cause, he said, adding that the ATF is often involved in cases where a firefighter has died in the line of duty.

    Erney said the police investigators included members of the Vigo County Drug Task Force, who were sent "to cover all the bases."

    He added that police were not able to confirm that a burglar alarm activated at the business before the fire. The alarm service had been disconnected since mid-September, he said.

    Hours after the fire was out, small groups of firefighters continued to gather at the scene, at Fire Department headquarters and at the stations around the city. Conversation was quiet; glances directed downward or to the side.

    "It's just a real emotional time for the firefighters," Brighton said. Stott is the 12th Terre Haute firefighter killed in the line of duty. Nobody currently on the department was a member when the last firefighter, John O'Brien, died in 1963.

    "We all feel bad," said Lt. Clifford "Randy" Phillips, whose crew would have relieved Stott and his crew at Station 11 at 26th Street and Maple Avenue. "But if we have to go out on a fire right now, we're going to go."

    Brighton was at a loss for words as he stood at the scene Monday morning amid the lingering smell of smoke -- a smell that one firefighter's wife said stuck to her husband after a fire.

    "You look at this and ..." Brighton said, stuck in mid-sentence, pausing to survey the charred blocks, twisted metal siding and burnt wood. Brighton's eyes reflected the disbelief seen in dozens of others Monday. "We fight fires like this all the time," he said.



    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/in_sep30a.html

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    Stott, Ralph

    Age: 50
    Rank: Captain
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 09/30/2002
    Incident Time: 02:00
    Death Date: 09/30/2002

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Fireground Operations
    Activity Type: Advancing Hose Lines/Fire Attack
    Fixed Prop. Use: Store/Office

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Terre Haute Fire Department
    25 Spruce St.
    Terre Haute, Indiana 47807
    Chief: John Brighton

    Initial Summary:
    Captain Stott was fighting a fire at a garage and auto body shop when there was a large explosion causing debris and a facade to collapse forward on several firefighters, including Stott, who was trapped under large cement blocks killing him. Funeral visitation will be 10/02/2002 at the North Mattox-Wood Funeral Home, 4660 Lafayette, Ave., from 1600 to 2000hrs; on 10/03/2002 from 0900 to 1100hrs. Funeral service will begin at 1100hrs on 10/03/2002. Memorial fund for Captain Ralph Stott, Terre Haute Fire Department, C/O Terre Haute First National Bank. Visit any bank branch to make a donation (http://www.first-online.com/home.html).


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1347

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    Indiana Firefighter Funeral Moved to Larger Site

    Indiana Firefighter Funeral Moved to Larger Site
    Terre Haute Firefighter's Life Claimed in Line of Duty


    Major changes are now in place for the funeral of a fallen Terre Haute firefighter. 50-year old fire Captain Ralph Stott died in the line of duty early Monday morning, and the news of his death has struck a cord in the area and not just locally, but across the Midwest.

    An example of how the news has spread came in the form of a phone call to our newsroom from the fire department in Dayton, Ohio. And because several departments from outside the area said they would be in attendance for Captain Stott`s Funeral, it will be moved to a place that`s used to hosting large events.

    As the city continues to mourn the loss of Captain Stott, the fire department has been contacted by departments as large as Chicago and as small as Oblong, Illinois. Because of that, the funeral has now been moved to Hulman Center.

    Capt. Darrick Scott - Terre Haute Fire Dept. "There`s really no way of knowing how many will be here, all I can tell you from the response that we`ve received so far, there`s no way where we had it before could handle it."

    Visitation services are still planned at the north Mattox Funeral Home, but Thursday`s visitation will take place at the Hulman Center. Services will begin at 11:00am, and the public is invited. After the services, the public is encouraged to line the memorial walk procession, which starts at the Hulman Center, proceeds down, south on 8th street, before proceeding east on Wabash Avenue before ending at 13th and Wabash. Fire stations will be manned by volunteer units from Vigo County.

    Capt. Darrick Scott - Terre Haute Fire Dept. "I can`t stress enough the brotherhood the men found throughout the state and throughout the nation and even our own county."

    As for Stott`s family, there are some benefits available.

    Capt. Darrick Scott - Terre Haute Fire Dept. "The state of Indiana has already contacting us, telling us what we need to do, where we need to go to get the family help, and they will be taken care of."

    That includes a state benefit totaling $150,000. Stott`s family will also receive pension benefits from his local plan, and that`s paid to the surviving spouse. The investigation at the scene continues today, but investigators say no information will be released today. Meanwhile, firefighters continue to be taken back by how residents have reacted.

    Capt. Darrick Scott - Terre Haute Fire Dept. "The community is unbelievable. A lot of the firehouses are getting food and flowers. Captain Stott`s firehouse has been inundated with flowers."

    The Terre Haute Fire Department wants to stress both the funeral and burial are open to the public. And if you can only be at the memorial walk down Wabash Avenue, then that`s appreciated as well. Begin lining up at noon. Again, the funeral is Thursday at 11:00am at the Hulman Center. Burial will follow at Roselawn Cemetery. With classes still going on at ISU, parking is sure to be an issue. Because of that, the fire department asks anyone attending the funeral to please be understanding and park downtown, preferably at the city parking garage.




    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/in_sep30c.html

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    Source: Man Arrested In Connection With Firefighter's Death

    Source: Man Arrested In Connection With Firefighter's Death
    Fire Led To Department's First Fatality In Almost 40 Years

    POSTED: 8:51 p.m. EST November 19, 2002
    UPDATED: 8:51 p.m. EST November 19, 2002


    Story by The Indy Channel

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Police have arrested a man in connection with a blaze that led to the death of a Terre Haute firefighter, according to a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The man was arrested on a charge of arson, the source said. Information on the man's identity was not immediately available.

    Fire Capt. Ralph Stott, who had been with his department for 24 years, was battling flames at a Terre Haute car body shop Sept. 30 when the roof collapsed on him and other firefighters. Stott died, and two other people were injured.

    Officials said Stott's death was the first for the city's fire department in nearly 40 years.

    Authorities are looking for a second suspect in the case, the law enforcement source said.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...1&sectionId=46

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