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Thread: Pa. Firefighter Killed in Reported Collapse at Fire

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    Pa. Firefighter Killed in Reported Collapse at Fire

    Pa. Firefighter Killed in Reported Collapse at Fire

    DALE HEBERLIG
    Reprinted with Permission, The Sentinel

    Updated: 01-21-2003 01:22:50 PM


    A Shippensburg firefighter died Monday after the roof of a Huntingdon County building collapsed as he battled a fire there.

    An autopsy was scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Chambersburg Hospital. A press conference was slated to follow at 2 p.m. at the Pennsylvania State Police station in Chambersburg.

    Emergency personnel released little official information in the wake of the Monday afternoon fire in Blairs Mills, a village near the border of Juniata and Huntingdon counties. The town is about 19 miles northwest of Shippensburg and 30 miles west of Carlisle.

    In a Monday night statement, Franklin County Coroner Jeff Conner would say only that a Franklin County firefighter died in a fire in Huntingdon County.

    Firefighter of Year

    Unofficial sources identify the victim as Keith Hess, 22, a West End Fire and Rescue volunteer who also was reportedly a driver for the Fannett-Metal Fire and Ambulance Co.

    Hess was named West End's Firefighter of the Year in 2000. He graduated from Shippensburg Area Senior High School in 1998.

    Fannett-Metal and West End were among 11 stations responding about 4 p.m. Monday to an alarm that initially was reported as an apartment fire.

    State police trooper Charles Aungst of the Huntingdon barracks reports the fire was at the intersection of Hotel Road and Tuscarora Creek Road in Tell Township.

    Police say the victim briefly was trapped inside the building along with a second firefighter when a chimney and part of the second story of the building collapsed about 5 p.m. Both were freed by other firefighters.

    Huntingdon County Emergency Management Coordinator Richard Moore told an Altoona television station that four firefighters were inside the building at the time of the collapse.

    Moore told WTAJ television that the fire essentially was out and the two were trapped while dousing hot spots to prevent a flare-up.

    One firefighter was treated and released at Chambersburg Hospital. A third refused treatment for injuries.

    Police say the building was owned by Kimberly Burdge of Blairs Mills. It was unclear who lived there.

    Fannett-Metal Fire Chief Sam Peterson says the building is a total loss.

    No residents were injured in the fire, officials say.

    Investigation into the fire's cause continues through the state police fire marshal and Huntingdon-based state police.

    Backup Provided

    The West End station essentially was out of service Monday night, with other fire stations serving backup duty. Many of the company's members were sequestered in their quarters while others gathered quietly near apparatus in the station.

    The status of the Lurgan Avenue station is to be re-evaluated later today. Units from CV Hose Co., Vigilant Hose Co., Fayetteville Fire Co. and other stations still were standing by this morning.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...6&sectionId=39

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    Details Emerge In Pennsylvania Firefighter's Death

    Details Emerge In Pennsylvania Firefighter's Death

    DALE HEBERLIG
    Reprinted with Permission, The Sentinel

    Updated: 01-22-2003 12:47:43 PM

    A Shippensburg firefighter died Monday after part of a old house collapsed on him and two others as they battled a fire in Huntingdon County.

    Keith Hess, 22, of the 9800 block of Possum Hollow Road, was a volunteer with West End Fire and Rescue Co. and a paid EMT and firefighter for Fannett Metal Fire Dept. in Dry Run.

    Franklin County Coroner Jeff Conner said Tuesday that Hess was on duty with Fannett Metal around 3 p.m. Monday when he responded to a structure fire at 246 Hotel Road in Blairs Mills.

    Conner said Hess was performing "salvage and overhaul" on the first floor with Shippensburg firefighters Cory Connelly and Dave Ocker around 5 p.m., after the fire had been brought under control, when a chimney in the center of the structure collapsed.

    The falling structure collapsed the second floor onto the three firefighters, Conner said.

    One man was able to escape on his own while the other two, including Hess, had to be rescued, the coroner said.

    State police investigator Daniel Sneath says there were "a multitude" of firefighters inside the building at the time of the collapse.

    Despite "heroic efforts" of fellow firefighters and EMS and the crew of Hershey Life Lion, Conner said, Hess died at Chambersburg Hospital at 6:07 p.m.

    The official cause of his death is "compressional asphyxia." The exact manner of his death remains "undetermined."

    W. Mervin Fogelsanger is thought to be the only other Shippensburg firefighter ever to die in action. He fell victim to an apparent heart attack in February 1969 while battling a huge downtown blaze in the first block of East King Street.

    Connelly, 30, and Ocker, 20, have been released from the hospital and are now "resting at home with their families," said a press release from Cumberland Valley Hose Co. Fire Chief Scott A. Kitner.

    Kitner says the men were trapped in the structure for about 10 minutes before they were rescued.

    Blairs Mills is a village of about 800 people near the border of Juniata and Huntingdon counties, about 19 miles northwest of Shippensburg and 30 miles west of Carlisle.

    State police trooper Charles Aungst of the Huntingdon barracks reports the fire was at the intersection of Hotel Road and Tuscarora Creek Road in Tell Township.

    Police say the building was owned by Kimberly Burdge of Blairs Mills. Fannett-Metal Fire Chief Sam Peterson says the building is a total loss.

    No residents were injured in the fire, officials say.

    Fannett-Metal and West End were among 11 stations responding.

    Investigation into the fire's cause continues through the state police fire marshal and state police.

    The West End station was out of service Monday night, with other fire stations serving backup duty. Many of the company's members were sequestered in their quarters while others gathered quietly near apparatus in the station.

    By last night, West End equipment and some personnel were back on the job, but the company was still getting support from other companies to complement their manpower.

    Community Deals with Death of Fireman

    The death of fireman Keith Hess Monday spread grief throughout the emergency response community, but the tragedy devastated two Franklin County companies in particular.

    Hess, 22, a lieutenant at Shippensburg's West End Fire and Rescue Co. and a paid firefighter and EMT for the Fannett-Metal Fire and Ambulance Co. in Path Valley, perished while on duty with the Fannett-Metal station.

    That makes the loss no easier to swallow for WEFR members.

    West End Deputy Chief Jeff Coombe choked back tears as he read a prepared statement at a Tuesday afternoon press conference about the fire and Hess' death.

    "All that had the pleasure of knowing and working with Lt. Hess regarded him as a great friend, firefighter, officer and employee," Coombe said.

    Fannett-Metal Capt. Jason Peterson says members of the Path Valley company are stung by the loss of Hess, who joined the company ranks in 1999.

    "I've come to know him well since then, as the other guys have," Peterson says. "Everyone is dealing with this in their own way. Some are just sitting, others are crying and some are working harder than usual to keep their minds occupied."

    Justin Martin, WEFR assistant chief, says he's "thankful" he wasn't at the scene Monday.

    "It's just a huge tragedy," Martin says. "I've known Keith since elementary school and I don't know anyone who disliked him. He was just a completely likable guy."

    Martin says many WEFR volunteers are reminiscing to cope with the grief. Martin recalls Hess' "pride and joy" pickup truck that he rebuilt.

    "I think it was a Chevy," Martin says. "I know you could hear it coming from a long way off."

    Roy Dubbs, an uncle, says Hess intended to keep that truck forever, because it had belonged to his grandfather and had emotional value.

    Dubbs, a brother to Hess' mother, Judy, says he knew the young man since he was a boy in diapers.

    "He was just a basic good person," Dubbs says. "An easygoing, gentle giant. A big, strapping boy with never a bad word to say about anyone."

    Dubbs says Hess was part of a close-knit family.

    "Bob and Judy are very supportive parents and you couldn't find two closer kids than Keith and his sister, Chrissie," he says.

    Denny Clopper, a WEFR fireman and an emergency dispatcher in Franklin County, says he talked with Hess and some of his friends at the Fannett-Metal station not long before Monday's 3 p.m. alarm.

    "Stevie Sites was on the phone and I could hear Keith in the background," Clopper says. "They were giving me a hard time, disrespecting me in a fun way."

    Shortly afterwards, Clopper dispatched Fannett-Metal to the Blairs Mills fire and was talking to Hess enroute to the call.

    "The next thing I heard was that he was gone," Clopper says.

    Hess was a 1998 graduate of Shippensburg Area Senior High School where he was "an A and B student," according to Principal Fred Shilling.

    "He worked very hard academically," Shilling says. The principal also said Hess declared his interest in firefighting early in his high school years.

    Hess joined WEFR as a junior member at the age of 14 and became the company's Rookie of the Year in 1997. He was named Firefighter of the Year in 2000.

    Funeral & Memorial Information


    Memorial/Visitation - Friday, January 24

    Visiting Fire Department and Emergency Services personnel are encouraged to pay their respects from 1500 to 1800 at the Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home, 112 West King Street, Shippensburg.

    After 1800, the family suggests that personnel from West End Shippensburg and Fannett-Metal Fire Departments, community, friends, and relatives greet the family at this time.

    Please do not bring ANY apparatus to the funeral home Friday, other than personal vehicles. Please strive to accommodate the wishes of the family.


    Directions:
    North I-81 to Exit 24, to Fayette Street, left on Fayette Street to King Street, left on King Street to funeral home on immediate left.

    South I-81 to Exit 29, right on Walnut Bottom Road to King Street, left on King Street, six signal lights, funeral home on left.

    Questions on directions, please contact the Franklin County Emergency Services office, 717-264-2813.

    Funeral - Saturday, January 25

    All Emergency Services vehicles should report to the Shippensburg Area Senior High School, starting at 1100 to check in at the intersection of Eberly and Baker Russel Drive. Please arrive prior to 1300 so that proper arrangements can be made. Please limit apparatus in the line-of-march to one unit per department. Private autos will be directed to their parking at time of arrival.

    All personnel are asked to be in the High School Auditorium by 1400.

    Following the service, all Emergency Services personnel will be excused to return to their apparatus. Personnel are asked to form an "Honor Guard" with their apparatus and personnel, providing appropriate hand salute as the procession passes. At the end of the family procession, apparatus will be directed to join the procession. Individuals may elect to ride their apparatus or return to their personal vehicles for the procession. Apparatus will be staged prior to entry to the cemetery at direction of the local fire police.

    Additional information and directions will be provided upon arrival and check-in. Please check-in prior to 1300 hours.

    Please contact the Franklin County Department of Emergency Services at 264-2813, to confirm the number of participants by Thursday, January 23, 2100 hours.

    The family requests the omission of flowers, memorial donations should be made to:

    Keith Hess Memorial Fund
    West End Fire and Rescue
    49 Lurgan Avenue
    Shippensburg, PA 17257


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...6&sectionId=39

  3. #3
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    Pennsylvania Funeral Drawing Firefighters

    Pennsylvania Funeral Drawing Firefighters


    J.C. NORTH
    Courtesy of Public Opinion

    Updated: 01-24-2003 01:45:06 PM

    More than 1,000 firefighters are expected to attend a memorial service Saturday for Keith Hess, a Shippensburg firefighter who was killed Monday at a house fire in Huntingdon County.

    By Wednesday afternoon, more than 150 fire companies had notified the 911 center that they planned to bring fire equipment to the event, which will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Shippensburg Area Senior High School.

    West End Fire and Rescue in Shippensburg and Hess' family agreed to a memorial service with full honors -- uniformed pallbearers, fire apparatus draped in black, firefighters in dress uniforms and white gloves, and an arch formed by two ladder trucks at the cemetery's entrance.

    Hess' casket will be carried on top of an engine to the cemetery. Company members will walk beside the engine, followed by other firefighters.

    Meanwhile, the investigation into the cause of the fire that claimed the life of Hess and injured two other firefighters continued in the tiny village of Blairs Mills in eastern Huntingdon County, not far from the Franklin County and Juniata County lines.

    While no cause had been announced by Wednesday afternoon, debris had been cleared from the house and Pennsylvania State Police investigators were seen examining an electrical outlet in the living room of the gutted home at 246 Hotel Road.

    According to the sister of homeowner Kimberly Burdge, that may have been where the fire started Monday afternoon.

    Katina Burdge, who was at the fire scene Wednesday, said her sister and Kim's 3-year-old son, Logan, discovered the fire after they came home from church on Monday afternoon.

    "Kim was checking her phone messages when she said Logan came to her with a strange look on his face," Katina Burdge said. "She said she knew something was wrong. She ran into the living room and saw the wall on fire behind the couch. She yelled for Logan to get out and yell for help, then she got a pan of water to throw on the fire. Once Logan got outside and started yelling, she said she ran out with him."

    Neither Kim Burdge nor her son was injured in the fire.

    Asked about Katina Burdge's account of what happened, state Trooper Daniel Sneath of the Huntingdon station would say only that the fire marshal had not yet determined a cause in the blaze.

    Hess, of 9897 Possum Hollow Road, was killed when a chimney collapsed in the Burdge home, causing part of the second floor to give way. The 22-year-old firefighter suffocated after being trapped under the debris, according to Franklin County Coroner Jeff Conner.

    Injured in the collapse, which occurred after the fire had been extinguished and firefighters were inside the structure looking for hot spots, were Assistant Chief Cory Connelly, 30, and Dave Ocker, 20, both members of Cumberland Valley Hose Company No. 2 in Shippensburg.

    Hess was a volunteer with West End Fire and Rescue in Shippensburg and a paid firefighter-emergency medical technician with Fannett-Metal Fire and Ambulance Company.

    West End member Charlie Westcott said it's no surprise that hundreds of firefighters will attend Hess's funeral on Saturday.

    "It's a bond ... a commitment to preserve life and property," Westcott said.

    A viewing for Hess will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday in Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home, 112 W. King St., Shippensburg, with family members expected to be present from 6 to 8 p.m.

    Memorial contributions may be made to the Keith Hess Memorial Fund, West End Fire and Rescue, 49 Lurgan Ave., Shippensburg 17257.

    The tradition of a firefighter's funeral probably dates back to the 1700s, when the first fire companies formed in American cities, according to local historians.

    In the rural areas, such a service most likely didn't get started until the mid-1900s, they said.

    The last full service held for a fallen firefighter in Franklin County was in 1988 for Tom H. Blessing Jr., who had a fatal heart attack while unloading hose at a fire at the Wolf Avenue complex in Chambersburg.

    The largest service and processional locally, according to area firefighters, was in July 1977 for Fayetteville Fire Chief James W. Cutchall, who was shot and killed by Gary Rock as Cutchall responded to a fire Rock had set at his own home off Black Gap Road. Rock, convicted of murder in the incident, is in Huntingdon State Prison.

    More than 2,700 people attended the service for Cutchall in sweltering heat at the Chambersburg Area Senior High School. Firefighters came from across the United States and apparatus came from as far as the New England states.

    Cutchall's uniform and helmet were on his casket, which was carried to Lincoln Cemetery, Chambersburg, in one of Fayetteville's engines. The bullet hole in the front window of the fire engine had not yet been repaired.

    The small town of Hustontown, nestled in the hills of northwest Fulton County, was the site of a memorial service for three firefighters who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while cleaning a well in May 1990.

    The deaths of James F. Chesnut Jr., Richard L. Hershey and Thomas L. Lane are the only ones in the Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Company's 38-year history.

    About 2,000 people attended the service, including firefighters from Pennsylvania and the Northeast, in the Forbes Road High School.

    The caskets were carried by firefighters and their firefighting gear was carried by officers.

    At the cemetery, a fire siren was blown for each of fallen firefighters.

    Fire companies have until 9 tonight to notify Franklin County Emergency Services at 264-2813 as to how many people will attend Hess' funeral. Companies are to bring only one piece of apparatus.

    Firefighters are asked to be in the auditorium at SASHS by 2 p.m.

    Survivors of firefighters killed in the line of duty could have access to several different types of benefits, said Mary Ellis, managing director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmittsburg, Md.

    The foundation learned a firefighter died from the news late Monday evening, Ellis said.

    As soon as the foundation feels it's a respectful time, another family will contact Hess' family, according to Ellis. The family, which has gone through a similar situation, is part of the Fire Service Survivors Network.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...3&sectionId=39

  4. #4
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    Hess, Keith R

    Age: 22
    Rank: Firefighter/EMT
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 01/20/2003
    Incident Time: 18:07
    Death Date: 01/20/2003

    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Nature of Death: Asphyxiation (includes drowning)
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Fireground Operations
    Activity Type: Salvage and Overhaul
    Fixed Prop. Use: Residential

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Fannett Metal Fire Department
    18771 Dry Run Road
    Dry Run, Pennsylvania 17219
    Chief: Sam Peterson

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter/EMT Hess died from injuries received when injured at an apartment building fire in the village of Blairs Mills while doing salvage and overhaul operations. He became trapped when a chimney collapsed taking the second floor down with it. The cause of death has been determined to be compressional asphyxia.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    Keith Hess Memorial Fund West End Fire & Rescue 49 Lurgan Avenue Shippensburg, PA 17257


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1380

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