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Thread: Florida - Firefighter Recruit Dies In Training Exercise

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    Florida - Firefighter Recruit Dies In Training Exercise

    Firefighter Recruit Dies In Training Exercise
    Four Other Trainees Also Overcome By Heat

    POSTED: 12:14 p.m. EDT August 8, 2003
    UPDATED: 5:38 p.m. EDT August 8, 2003


    Story by Click10.com

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Five Miami-Dade County firefighter recruits were overcome by heat today during a training exercise at Port Everglades today, and one of them died before reaching the hospital.

    The five were taken to Broward General Medical Center, two reportedly in serious condition.

    Wayne Mitchell, 37, was pronounced dead at Broward General Medical Center.

    The firefighters were training at the Resolve Marine Fire School at 3305 S.E. 19th Avenue.

    According to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, the incident happened just before 10 a.m. during a simulated shipboard fire.

    Mitchell, four other recruits and three instructors, were participating in the training exercise. At the completion of the exercise, instructors quickly realized Mitchell did not come out of the makeshift ship. Instructors went inside and pulled Mitchell out.

    According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, this 27-member class of trainee recruits started on June 23. They are scheduled to graduate in late December, and then begin probationary employment.

    The other trainees who required medical care were Olga Love, Antonio Mesa, Jose Medina, and Miguel Rojas. They were treated and released.

    BSO homicide detectives, Hollywood Fire and the State Fire Marshal's Office are investigating Mitchell's death.

    Copyright 2003 by Click10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=16737


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    Statement From Commissioner Joe A. Martinez

    Statement From Commissioner Joe A. Martinez

    POSTED: 4:30 p.m. EDT August 8, 2003

    MIAMI -- This morning, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue recruit was pronounced dead at a local hospital in Broward County after being injured in a controlled burn training exercise at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

    The training exercise was conducted at a marine fire fighting training facility. Four other recruits were also injured in the same accident.

    As Chairman of the Public Safety Committee for the Board of County Commissioners and as a former Miami-Dade Police Officer, I am deeply saddened by this tragedy. I have witnessed firsthand the risks and dangers of serving in the line of duty, and I know that many times words can only do so much to comfort the hearts of a grieving family. My heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to the family of the deceased and to the injured recruits.

    The Miami-Dade County Fire-Rescue Department is currently investigating the accident and more information will be forthcoming. I would like to assure the community that as Public Safety Committee Chairman, I will see to it that all the facts regarding this incident are thoroughly investigated and appropriate solutions, if necessary, are implemented as soon as possible to prevent this type of accident from ever happening again.

    -- Commissioner Joe A. Martinez

    http://www.click10.com/news/2392798/detail.html


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    Statement From Mayor Alex Penelas

    Statement From Mayor Alex Penelas

    POSTED: 5:09 p.m. EDT August 8, 2003

    MIAMI -- Miami-Dade County lost a member of its Fire Rescue recruit class today when one of its recruits, Wayne Mitchell died following a training exercise. It is a terrible loss to the community and to his family.

    Mr. Mitchell was one of five recruits transported to Broward General Hospital after a training session at a marine facility in Broward. Mr. Mitchell, who had formerly worked for the county's Parks and Recreation Department, had decided to join this elite organization of men and women who, each day, put their lives on the line.

    In this way, this fine young man became a casualty of a profession in which heroism is both a duty and a commitment.

    On behalf of the saddened people of Miami-Dade County, I offer our condolences to his family and friends. In less than a month he would have been sworn in as a member of the Fire-Rescue department, but in our hearts he's already a firefighter who gave his life to his community, and we honor him for it.

    We wish the four other recruits who were stricken a rapid recover.

    -- Mayor Alex Penelas, Miami-Dade County

    http://www.click10.com/news/2392929/detail.html

    Copyright 2003 by Click10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    Former Trainee Criticizes Program

    Former Trainee Criticizes Program

    POSTED: 5:33 p.m. EDT August 8, 2003

    MIAMI -- Jason Gross is hurting because Wayne Mitchell, who died in a firefighting training exercise, was a friend and fire college classmate.

    "It hurts that this has happened," Gross said. "It could have been prevented."

    "If I was still in the fire college this could have happened to me," Gross said. "That's why I'm upset about it."

    Gross was forced to drop out of the latest training class and was within three weeks of completing a previous class when he injured his back.

    He did complete the training exercise at the Resolve and says instructors make it dangerously hot.

    Gross said the tough conditions at the Resolve are typical of Miami-Dade's demanding fire training program. But, he says it's tougher than it needs to be and puts firefighters at risk.

    Gross went through basic training in the Navy and was a search-and-rescue diver. He says that training was tougher than fire-college, but accuses his fire instructors of being too macho.

    Channel 10 asked Fire Chief Antonio Bared if instructors are too demanding.

    "Firefighting is an extremely dangerous profession," Bared said. "You have to be prepared for the unknown."

    Copyright 2003 by Click10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    http://www.click10.com/news/2393021/detail.html

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    Four Agencies Start Inquiries Into Death Of Florida Firefighting Recruit

    Updated: 08-11-2003 02:06:19 PM

    Four Agencies Start Inquiries Into Death Of Florida Firefighting Recruit

    ............
    SHANNON O'BOYE
    Courtesy of Sun-Sentinel

    Miami -- Wayne Mitchell's name sat on the Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue waiting list for years.

    Soon, it will be etched into the Wall of Honor for fallen firefighters, in Colorado Springs, for eternity.

    Mitchell, 37, died Friday during a live-fire training exercise at Port Everglades before realizing his dream of becoming a firefighter.

    "He waited so long," Albert Bordas, a longtime friend, said Saturday afternoon. "I think a lot of people would have given up, but he was determined.

    "Finally, when he got the call, he was very, very excited," Bordas said. "It was what he'd worked for for so long."

    Bordas wanted to throw a party for his friend when the county fire department hired him at the end of June, but Mitchell insisted on completing his months of training first.

    "I've never seen Wayne so dedicated to anything," Bordas said. "This guy would wake up at the crack of dawn, work out, study."

    He spent time at home tying a dozen different types of knots with gloves on -- a skill all the trainees would be tested on.

    Mitchell was doing so well he had recently been named a group leader in his recruit class, his family said.

    "He said he's good, that's why," one of his sisters, Chrissy Enriquez, said with a slight smile.

    Mitchell, who graduated from Hialeah High School and was married to Nancy Mitchell, a school counselor, spent 11 years as a lifeguard, most recently at Haulover beach.

    Last year, Mitchell saved a little girl from drowning when his sister was at the beach visiting him.

    "She got pulled under ... and he just took off running," Enriquez said. "He didn't even have his buoy. I never even saw it. His focus was always where it had to be."

    Mitchell told people that the fire-rescue training was intense, but they thought he'd make it through because he was in the best shape of his life.

    "Every morning when he wasn't at the beach, he would call me at 5:30 and he'd be on his way to the gym," his mother, Jeanne Wilcox, said. "He'd spend an hour or an hour and a half there.

    "He golfed, he played tennis, he surfed. He could do any of those things," she said.

    Now Mitchell's family is starting to ask questions.

    "I want to know what went wrong," Enriquez said. "Why was it so long before they knew he was gone?"

    Mitchell went into a makeshift cargo ship at Port Everglades with four other recruits and three supervisors on Friday morning. They were dressed in full bunker gear. The purpose of the drill was to see a fire up close.

    They experienced the brutal heat, the smoke and the darkness firsthand. They saw how quickly the fire spread and what happened when they sprayed water on the flames.

    But at some point during the 15- to 20-minute drill, Mitchell collapsed. It is unclear when because no one knew he was in trouble until his four classmates emerged without him.

    Supervisors rushed back into the building, found the hose line, and followed it in opposite directions in search of Mitchell. They went around once without finding him. They found him on a second pass, leading them to think that Mitchell got lost but made his way back to the hose before collapsing, said a public safety official on the scene Friday.

    Mitchell was still wearing his mask, but he was in cardiac arrest, the official said. Broward County Fire-Rescue medics from the Port Everglades station -- which is a few hundred feet from the Resolve Fire and Hazard Response training center -- rushed Mitchell to Broward General Medical Center, where he died.

    Joshua Perper, the Broward medical examiner, said Saturday night that the cause of Mitchell's death had not been determined.

    Two fire officials from Broward County who did not want to be identified said Mitchell suffered severe burns to his hands and knees during the drill. Antonio Mesa, another trainee, received a serious burn to his right hand, but when he was reached at home Saturday, he said he could not talk.

    The four classmates who went in with Mitchell were treated Friday for burns and heat exhaustion, said Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright.

    The fact all of them were burned raises questions about whether Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue supervisors had increased the temperature inside the burn box to a dangerous level.

    The Sheriff's Office, the State Fire Marshal's Office, the Hollywood Fire-Rescue Department and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are conducting investigations into Mitchell's death.

    They will look into several issues, including whether it was too hot outside to be conducting such a grueling exercise; whether Mitchell was wearing a safety device that should have set off a piercing alarm when he failed to move for more than 30 seconds; and whether the trainees were working in pairs, as they should have been.

    Two months ago, NIOSH released a report on the death of two firefighters killed while training in Kissimmee in July 2002 and recommended that departments use a thermal imaging camera during live-fire training. The cameras would help trainees see during the drill and help rescuers find a victim if there's a problem.

    Miami Dade Fire-Rescue officials have not yet addressed any of these issues.

    "Those are all important questions, if they apply," said Al Cruz, vice president of the department's union, who wanted to take a wait-and-see approach.

    Staff Writer Rafael A. Olmeda and Staff Researcher William Lucey contributehttp to this report



    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=16738


    Florida Firefighter Recruit Dies In Training Exercise

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    Firefighter Recruit Wayne Mitchell

    MDFR News


    Miami-Dade Fire Chief Antonio Bared has issued the following statement:

    I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of our brothers, Firefighter Recruit Wayne Mitchell, on Friday, August 8th. Firefighter Recruit Mitchell was participating in a live burn exercise during his recruit training.

    I, along with several members of my staff, have been in constant contact with Wayne

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