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Thread: Firefighter Dies After Working In Etna Flood Cleanup

  1. #1
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    Firefighter Dies After Working In Etna Flood Cleanup

    Firefighter Dies After Working In Etna Flood Cleanup

    Story by The Pittsburgh Channel

    ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A firefighter who had been helping with the flood cleanup in Etna has died.

    According to fire officials, John Brenckle served as a fire police captain at the Berkley Hills Fire Company in Ross Township.

    The flag at the fire station was flying at half-staff on Friday night as members met to plan Brenckle's funeral.

    Brenckle's family said he died Thursday night after a wound on his leg apparently became infected after coming in contact with bacteria from floodwater.

    A family member said that Brenckle was a diabetic and that may have contributed to his death too.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...9&sectionId=39

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    Infection from floodwater fatal to firefighter

    Tuesday, September 28, 2004
    By Byron Spice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    John Brenckle of Ross, a volunteer firefighter for almost four decades, died Thursday of a bloodstream infection that he likely contracted from contact with contaminated floodwaters.

    Brenckle, 57, had helped out in the flood-ravaged communities of Etna and Millvale over the weekend of Sept. 17-19, said his daughter, Amy R. Warrick of Ross. He fell sick Sept. 20 and was hospitalized on Wednesday.

    Neither his family nor health authorities were able to say how and when he became infected. But he had worked in and around floodwaters that weekend and had an open wound on his leg, making it likely that he was infected by the contaminated water, said Guillermo Cole, spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department.

    Cole, who said regulations prevented him from identifying the man by name, noted that he was diabetic, which made him more susceptible to infection.

    Health officials generally recommend that people, particularly those with open wounds, avoid contact with sewage-contaminated water because of the potential for infection. Sewage overflows routinely occur following heavy rains.

    Cole said it was the man's contact with floodwater, not the type of infection itself, that led health officials to believe the infection was flood-related.

    The Allegheny County coroner has opened an investigation into Brenckle's death.

    Brenckle worked for Equitable Gas for 39 years and was a crew supervisor, according to his son-in-law, Paul Warrick. But his passion was volunteer firefighting and emergency response.

    "That was pretty much his life, really," Paul Warrick said, noting Brenckle was a member of the Berkeley Hills Volunteer Fire Department for 36 years. He was president of the Ross Township Fire Police, a group he helped found in 1978 to perform traffic control and other support functions during fires and other disasters.

    "He took care of the community," Paul Warrick said. "No matter what time of the day or night, he was there."

    A burial mass will be at 10 a.m. today in St. Sebastian Church in Ross. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Ross Township Fire Police.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04272/386717.stm

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    Death of Ross firefighter was caused by bacteria in floodwater

    Saturday, October 02, 2004
    By Joe Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Allegheny County coroner said yesterday that veteran volunteer firefighter John Brenckle, of Ross, died from a blood-borne infection that resulted from his exposure to bacteria in floodwaters.

    Brenckle, 57, died Sept. 23 of septicemia due to necrotizing fasciitis, Dr. Cyril Wecht said at a news conference. Sometimes called flesh-eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis results when bacteria cause severe breakdown of the skin's underlying tissues.

    The coroner's office said Brenckle developed the infection while directing traffic during the recent floods in Ross, Millvale and Etna.

    Brenckle had diabetes, which contributed significantly to his death by making him more susceptible to infection, Wecht said.

    An ulcer on Brenckle's leg that was related to his diabetes was "very fertile ground for bacterial contaminants," the coroner said.

    Several days before his death, Brenckle had worked in flood-ravaged areas as a Ross fire police officer. Fire police perform traffic control and other support functions during fires and other disasters.

    William Linkenheimer Jr., vice president of Ross Fire Police, said they worked together in Ross Sept. 17, then in Millvale the following day. He said Brenckle then went out to Etna and returned to Millvale that night.

    Wecht said Brenckle went to UPMC Passavant hospital after he developed chest pain and his legs became more swollen than usual.

    Brenckle was a volunteer with the Berkeley Hills Fire Company for 36 years and president of the Ross Township Fire Police, a group he helped found in 1978. He also had worked for Equitable Gas Co. for 39 years.

    Ross Township Manager Tom Lavorini said yesterday that because Brenckle was a volunteer firefighter, his family would be eligible for benefits, possibly from several sources.

    Several people identified by the coroner's office as members of Brenckle's family, along with his family doctor and fellow members of the Fire Police, attended the news conference but declined to comment.

    Linkenheimer said that even though Brenckle was about 6 feet 8 inches tall, "he kept a low profile."

    He said Brenckle was a gentleman who demonstrated patience with motorists even as he "knew how to go in and get the job done."

    "He dedicated his life, practically, to the Fire Police," Linkenheimer said.

    He said he thought Brenckle "would have to be 90 before he would say, 'I can't do it anymore.' "

    Brenckle is the second resident in the region to die in connection with the recent floods.

    A deaf man, Dennis Santiago, 35, drowned last month after he was swept away by floodwaters in Carnegie.

    The Allegheny County coroner's office said John Brenckle, of Ross, developed septicemia while directing traffic during the recent floods in Ross, Millvale and Etna.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04276/389293.stm

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    Ross Firefighter In Floods Got Flesh-Eating Bacteria

    Story by The Pittsburgh Channel

    PITTSBURGH -- An autopsy has found that a volunteer firefighter who worked in flooded areas of Allegheny County last month contracted a deadly infection.

    John Brenckle, 57, of Ross, was originally thought to have died from natural causes. Hours before a funeral Mass, his body was handed over to the coroner's office to confirm the new theory that bacteria-filled floodwaters infected an open sore on his leg.

    On Friday morning, Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht said Brenckle died as a result of exposure to contaminated floodwaters. That makes his death an accident, and could bring the family more than $330,000 in benefits, because Brenckle was working as a fire police officer.

    The official cause of death was septicemia, a blood infection, due to necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria. Wecht said Brenckle's diabetes made him more susceptible to contracting the bacteria.

    Brenckle directed traffic during the Sept. 17 floods in Ross, then worked two more days in Etna and Millvale, which were also flooded. He died Sept. 23 at UPMC Passavant.

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

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    Firefighter memorial becomes reality

    By Tom Forgrave
    Thursday, June 23, 2005

    After just seven months from the time the Ross Township Firemen's Association won approval for a firefighters memorial, The John Brenckle Firefighter's Memorial now hangs just outside the commission meeting chambers.

    "I think the plaque is a wonderful idea," said Brenckle's cousin, Lois Brenckle of Troy Hill. "John was a wonderful person."

    Brenckle, 57, a fire captain and 30-year member of the Berkeley Hills Volunteer Fire Company, died September 23 of a bacterial infection that entered his bloodstream through an open sore on his leg as he directed traffic in Millvale during the September 17 flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Ivan. He was also president of the Ross Fire Police, the organization that directs traffic during emergencies.

    Other fallen firefighters honored on the plaque are Lee Ehrman, of Berkley Hills, who died of a heart attack while directing traffic in 1977; Philip Pieto, of the Quaill Volunteer Fire Department, killed when struck by a fire truck in 1978; and Robert Winner, of Perrysville Volunteer Fire Company who died of a heart attack at the scene of a fire in 2001.


    The plaque is the joint effort of the eight volunteer fire departments in the township, said Bill Marciniak, president of the firemen's association and a member of the Keating department in West View. The other departments are Laurel Gardens, Evergreen, Fairview, and Seville.

    "All of the fire companies felt it should have been done," Marciniak said.

    Marciniak said his organization asked commissioner's approval to seek a $5,000 state grant for the memorial in September. Funding was arranged through the office of Rep. Don Walko, D- North Side. The plaque was erected last week and will be dedicated in October, Marciniak said.

    "These firefighters deserve to be remembered for their contributions," Commissioner Gerald O'Brien said.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/trib.../s_346186.html

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