scheduled tribe. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A St. Louis firefighter was killed Thursday while battling a fire.
The fire department received information about the fire in a two-storey brick building in 5900 block of Cote Brilliant at around 1 pm. Firefighters doused the fire on the first floor and reached the second floor. The fire was so fierce that firefighters decided to get out.
As they were retreating, the roof collapsed, burying two firefighters. One of them was trapped under a “massive amount of rubble” of heavy wood and bricks and “fell the brunt of his person falling.” The firefighter was later identified as Benjamin “Ben” Polson.
Firefighter Polson was killed not by fire, but by collapse and debris. Another firefighter was taken to the hospital. The St. Louis Fire Department later said the second injured firefighter was treated along with another and released from the hospital.
“An incident like this takes a toll on the entire fire department,” said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson. “We are a closely related department. You can’t deal with this. There are no words to describe what the feeling is among the fire department right now. Just a terrible situation.”
Jenkerson said they are looking into the building’s conditions and what caused the fire and the total collapse, noting the department that some city buildings are not safe for firefighters to enter. The department, however, always assumes that buildings that appear empty are occupied, as people use them for shelter.
“The St. Louis City Fire Department does a thing every day in buildings that many departments consider buildings we shouldn’t enter. They made the right decision of ‘let’s get out,’ and unfortunately because of the condition of the building, they Caught in the fall,” Jenkerson said.
The house is a total loss. There was some damage to the building on its east side.
“We get paid to take risks, to protect lives,” Jenkerson said. “We take risks and unfortunately and terrifyingly, the risk we took today was not worth it. We lost a firefighter.”
St. Louis Mayor Tishora Jones tweeted, “St. Louis is mourning the loss of one of our brave @STLFireDept firefighters in the line of duty this afternoon. Our city prays for his family and our entire department following this devastating tragedy.”
“This incident is a sobering reminder of the real dangers our first responders face every day as they fight to keep our communities safe,” said Chief Ron Battle, executive director of The Backstoppers. “Losing any first responders is a heartbreak for each of us, but we will make sure they are never forgotten.”
Backstoppers are assisting with firefighter Polson’s expenses. The non-profit organization assists the families of first responders who died in the line of duty or suffered a catastrophic injury. Donations can be made to the organization online here or by calling (314) 692-0200.
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