BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — This weekend was National Fallen Firefighters Memorial weekend, and firefighters who have lost their lives all over the country were honored in ceremonies in Maryland.
In Brevard County, a battalion chief talked about losing one of his own.
- October 5-6 is Fallen Firefighters National Memorial weekend
- Battalion Chief Nikolai Pippa: Every call could be someone's last
- Florida will hold its own Fallen Firefighters Memorial on November 15
No matter how hard firefighters train and practice for every scenario, they always have to expect the unexpected. Melbourne Fire Station 71 Battalion Chief Nikolai Pippa explained every call could be someone’s last.
“Every department has some type of injury. The number one leading cause of death to firefighters are cardiac events,” Pippa said.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there have been 14 firefighter fatalities in the state of Florida since 2009, including someone with years of service with Orange County Fire Rescue and the Melbourne Fire Department.
In 2009, Lt. Robert Strang was killed shortly after responding to a call. He used to serve fire station 74 in Melbourne. Battalion Chief Pippa says even veterans like Strang are not immune to injury or death.
“He went to a structure fire in downtown Melbourne and when he got back from that call, he passed away in the station,” he said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on his Twitter Sunday said he has directed flags across the state be flown at half-staff.
Over the past nine years nationwide, the number of on-duty firefighter fatalities is 323 and counting.
“If you see the guys on the street, or in the store or wherever they are, just tell them thank you for your service, because it is a sacrifice,” Pippa said.
According to Pippa, they postponed the national celebration until November due to hurricane season. Florida will hold the Fallen Firefighters Memorial on November 15 in Ocala.