Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department dedicated the 5th annual Truck Company Operations Class to the memory of these two firefighters, John Hudgins and Frank Young, who gave their life in the line of duty.
Twenty years ago on March 18, 1996 the Chesapeake Virginia Fire Department responded to a commercial structure fire in an auto parts store. This building was built with a light weight wood truss assembly and a large open showroom. Upon arrival, conditions were clear inside the store, with reports of a fire at the electrical meter. Engine 3 was the first due engine that went to investigate. Upon further investigation, they found an active fire and an attack line was stretched to the interior of the structure. Unknown to the crew, the space above the showroom containing the wood trusses was heavily involved in the fire. Twenty-one minutes after dispatch and an estimated 10-12 minutes after fire impingement on the truss assembly, the entire assembly collapsed, trapping and killing the two firefighters inside. This fire was caused by a power company truck articulating boom making contact with a power line leading to the meter box causing an electrical short.
Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department would like to dedicate our 6th annual Truck Company Operations class, to the memory of Kyle Robert Wilson, who gave his life in the line of duty on April 16, 2007.
Technician Wilson was assigned to Tower 512, a ladder company. Tower 512 was dispatched to a reported house fire at 0603hrs. The Prince William County area was under a high wind advisory as a nor'easter storm moved through the area. Sustained winds of 25 miles-per-hour with gusts up to 48 miles-per-hour were prevalent in the area at the time of the fire dispatch. Initial arriving units reported heavy fire on the exterior of two sides of the single family house and crews suspected that the occupants were still inside the house sleeping because of the early morning hour. A search of the upstairs bedroom was conducted by Technician Wilson and his officer. A rapid and catastrophic change of fire and smoke conditions occurred in the interior of the house within minutes of Tower 512's crew entering the structure. Technician Wilson became trapped and was unable to locate an immediate exit out of the hostile environment. Mayday radio transmissions were made by crews and by Technician Wilson of the life-threatening situation. Valiant and repeated rescue attempts to locate and remove Technician Wilson were made by the fire fighting crews during extreme fire, heat, and smoke conditions. Firefighters were forced from the structure as the house began to collapse on them and intense fire, heat, and smoke conditions developed. Technician Wilson succumbed to the fire and the cause of death was reported by the medical examiner to be thermal and inhalation injuries.