Illinois Firefighter Dies After Blaze

Updated: 01-23-2006 01:05:28 PM

Courtesy of The Pantagraph

ATLANTA - An Atlanta volunteer firefighter died early Saturday morning after complaining of not feeling well while fighting a fire. Roger W. Armstrong, 42, of Atlanta was pronounced dead at BroMenn Regional Medical Center at 1:35 a.m. Saturday, a press release from McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling said.

The Atlanta Fire Department was called to assist the Waynesville Fire Protection District around 11 p.m. at a structure fire at 408 S. Isham in Waynesville, Atlanta Fire Chief Rick Cheek said.

"It was a two and a half story house and by the time we got there, the entire roof had been burnt off," he said.

Cheek said Armstrong had been running the hose line, which involves directly spraying water on the fire.

"When the bell rang that he had five minutes of air left on his SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), he came over and sat down on the running board and said he wasn't feeling well," Cheek said.

Cheek said after Armstrong started to feel worse, he directed him over to the Waynesville Ambulance for treatment.

"I checked on him 10 minutes later, and he was still alert," he said. "But things went downhill quickly."

Armstrong eventually was taken to BroMenn Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Cheek said Armstrong had a "heart history," and had overexerted himself at another fire a few years back.

"You know, when there's adrenaline pumping, that can really play a part," he said.

Cheek described Armstrong as a dedicated firefighter, who when he wasn't working at Country Companies, spent a lot of time at the fire house. He had been a volunteer with the department for eight years.

"This is a man with a heart of gold, who would do anything for anyone," Cheek said.

"He would have given you the shirt off his back."

Cheek said Armstrong was a "computer whiz" and gladly would fix any computer problems the department encountered.

"He also had electrical skills and spent four months wiring and doing electrical work at the firehouse," he said.

Armstrong was married and had two high school aged girls. He also served as assistant director of the rescue squad and was adamant about helping people, Cheek said.

"He was a very crucial part of our department, and he's going to be missed dearly," he said.

The coroner's office has scheduled an autopsy for Monday. Quiram Funeral Home, Atlanta, has charge of arrangements.