A firefighter lost his life after getting trapped in the basement of a burning building during an operation to put out the inferno. Before breathing his last, he left a touching message for his family.
Captain Joshua Laird, assigned to Engine 251 of the New Market Volunteer Fire Company, Station 25, joined the line of veterans who gave their lives in service to the country.
The firefighter succumbed to his injury shortly after falling through the loose floor of a burning building and becoming trapped in the basement.
Photo of fire fighters during an emergency situation | Photo: twitter.com/RVFC282 twitter.com/Elias7News
According to reports, Laird was among a team of firemen deployed to the house on 9510 Ball Road, Ijamsville, after it went ablaze. Fire officials believe the building caught fire after getting struck by at least one bolt of lightning during a thunderstorm.
A neighbor, Eileen Rice, saw the building engulfed in black smoke after stepping out of her home to catch some air due to a power outage. She called 911 immediately.
Soon after receiving calls from neighbors, the Frederick County emergency unit dispatched several fire units to the scene. Laird's unit arrived first and proceeded to start the Rapid Intervention Team, following an official directive via radio.
The fireman entered the burning building through the front door, but fell through the ground-level floor into the basement, the Frederick County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Steven Leatherman confirmed.
"We are keenly aware of the dangers of our profession."
While trapped in the inferno, surrounded by fire and smoke, the fireman left a final message for his family by speaking into his radio transmitter with a feeble voice, saying: "Tell my family I love them."
The department issued a mayday over radio shortly after and successfully airlifted the veteran to the hospital. Soon after arriving at the Washington Hospital Center in D.C, Captain Laird died from his injuries.
During an emergency press conference, Deputy Chief Leatherman reported that the incident was a rare occurrence, saying:
"I've been in the fire service a long time and we've never had to experience this. It's happened before, obviously, in the county. But it's been a long time."
Photo of a firefighter in front of a fire. | Photo: Pexels
No other casualty was reported in the outbreak. Fire officials do not believe anyone was present in the 5300-square-foot home at the time of the fire.
The county held a procession in honor of the deceased captain a day after the incident, and many turned up to bid their final farewells to the lost hero, who spent 21 years in the fire department.
Paying tribute to Captain Laird, Fire Chief Tom Coe revealed that the veteran was a dedicated fire safety professional committed to serving the citizens of Frederic County. He added: "There are no words to truly capture what his loss means to his fire service family and our organization."
Firefighter sitting on the steps. | Photo : Pexels
President Stephen Jones of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3666 also paid him tribute, noting that tragedy had befallen the fire service family.
He also delved into details about what being a firefighter entailed, saying: "While we are keenly aware of the dangers of our profession, every day we put on our uniform with the hope that we will safely return home."
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner expressed how heartbroken he was by the loss, adding that the bravery of firefighters was often overlooked. Going further, he urged everyone to support Laird's wife, kids, and the rest of the family left behind to mourn his loss.
Last year, Los Angeles firefighter paramedic Jose Perez lost his life following a brief battle with COVID-19. Following his demise, his family shared his story, advising everyone to adhere to all COVID -19 protocols as the virus was real.
Perez's wife also expressed how devastated she was over the loss. Sadly, such stories are some of the sacrifices firemen and other front liners make in service of the nation.
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