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Thread: Ex-Hebron, North Dakota Fire Chief Suffers Heart Attack At The Scene

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    Ex-Hebron, North Dakota Fire Chief Suffers Heart Attack At The Scene

    Ex-Hebron, North Dakota Fire Chief Suffers Heart Attack At The Scene

    Updated: 08-06-2004 11:17:50 AM

    Bismarck Tribune via Associated Press

    HEBRON, N.D. (AP) -- Former city fire chief George Raber is remembered for dedicating his life to his job.

    Raber, 69, the oldest member of the Hebron department, died Saturday, after suffering a heart attack as he stepped from the engine to fight a blaze near Hebron. Fellow firefighters tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead after being taken to the Richardton Health Center.

    Friends and associates knew him as one of the most dedicated firefighters in the history of the Hebron department.

    "Once it gets in your blood to the extent that George had it, it stays in your blood forever,'' said Darrell Graf, a firefighter and friend.

    Raber had been a volunteer firefighter in Hebron for 41 years. Colleagues said he held every position in the department and missed only one firefighter meeting during his time there.

    "He didn't sit in the fire department and man the radio,'' said volunteer firefighter Kevin Staiger. "When there was a fire he was on that truck ready to go, day or night.''

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...1&sectionId=39

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    Raber, George Henry

    Age: 69
    Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
    Rank: Crew Chief
    Nature of Death: Heart Attack
    Classification: Volunteer
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 07/31/2004
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 15:13
    Activity Type: Pump Operations
    Death Date: 07/31/2004
    Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Hebron Fire Protection District
    717 Summit Avenue
    Hebron , North Dakota 58638
    Chief: Terry Dakken

    Final Summary:
    Crew Chief Raber was operating a 2,500-gallon water tanker at the scene of a wildland fire. A hay bailer had started the fire. This was the second time that firefighters had responded to the scene that day. When the engine running the pump on the apparatus stopped operating, Crew Chief Raber stopped the truck and set the parking brake. As he exited the truck, Crew Chief Raber fell to the ground and did not get up. A farmer on the scene witnessed the fall, and firefighters immediately came to Crew Chief Raber's assistance. Crew Chief Raber was transported by ambulance to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. The death was due to a heart attack.

    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application...eath_year=2004

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    North Dakota Agency Denies LODD Benefits

    Updated: 10-26-2004 10:57:12 PM

    Associated Press

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota's workers insurance agency has refused to pay death benefits to a longtime Hebron volunteer firefighter, who died last July while battling a grass blaze.

    The decision by Workforce Safety and Insurance has prompted criticism from the man's friends and an attorney for his widow, and an agency spokesman said it may be reconsidered.

    George Raber, 69, suffered a heart attack last July while fighting a 400-acre grass fire southwest of Hebron. He was trying to check a water pump on the fire truck when he became ill. A former fire chief, Raber had been part of Hebron's volunteer fire department for more than 40 years.

    Raber's family may be eligible for up to $250,000 in death benefits. Last year, the Legislature increased the maximum from $197,000. Workforce Safety and Insurance, which was formerly known as the Workers Compensation Bureau, provides insurance coverage for workers who are injured or killed on the job.

    The agency denied Raber's claim, saying there was no evidence his death was work-related, or that unusual stress was involved. Mark Armstrong, a WSI spokesman, said the claim is being re-examined.

    "It's not unusual that we will reverse ourselves, with additional medical evidence,'' he said.

    Michael Halpern, an attorney for Raber's widow, Aloha, said there "ought to be compensation for the death of a volunteer firefighter, fighting a rather severe fire that endangered homes.''

    Darrell Graf, a volunteer firefighter and friend of Raber's, said the insurance agency should have taken a closer look at Raber's claim before denying it.

    "The man puts his life on the line, and dies, and the family has to go through this,'' Graf said.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=36127

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    Workforce Safety dropped the ball
    By FREDERIC SMITH, Bismarck Tribune

    Apparently, progress at North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance is not to be an uninterrupted journey forward.

    The insurance company -- formerly Workers Compensation -- says it has made a conscientious effort to give better, more prompt service to injured workers and that satisfaction among these workers is higher than it used to be. This may well be the case. It's true that the Tribune gets fewer letters to the editor from injured workers than it used to.

    But now comes the case of George Raber, a volunteer Hebron firefighter for 41 years, who died of a heart attack while fighting a dangerous grass fire this summer. Workforce Safety denied payment of a death benefit to his wife because "no evidence has been received to indicate that George Raber's death was caused by his employment, nor has any evidence been received to show that unusual stress was involved."

    But this is the outdated standard of old Workers Compensation law that the Legislature changed last session. How do you tell, anyway, if a firefighter would have had the same heart attack at the same point in time if he had been a bookkeeper? Lawmakers changed the law to pay off for deaths that occur on the job, period.

    Workforce Safety is now reviewing the case, saying it doesn't know why it consulted the old standard rather than the new.

    This is good -- although the extra pain to Raber's widow is unfortunate, and the episode betrays that there may be some lingering institutional bias at Workforce Safety that the agency needs to watch itself for.

    The old Workers Compensation, reflecting the beliefs of some of its more hardbitten employers, was sometimes cynical about injury claims to the point of paranoia. Doubtless, there was some fraud and malingering -- these being part of the human makeup -- and an insurance company is not obliged to pay off like a gumball machine, no questions asked.

    But someone who dies is not malingering; indeed, death is so unambiguous as to admit of no misinterpretation. Workforce Safety and Insurance should beg Mrs. Raber's pardon, fulfill its contractual obligations and resolve to be more careful in the future.

    http://www.bismarktribune.com/articl...ials/edt01.prt

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