An Atascocita volunteer firefighter has died from heat-related injuries sustained during weekend training in Beaumont that also hurt a Georgia fireman.
Capt. Neal W. Smith, 46, passed out Sunday at the conclusion of a "smoke diver" session at the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex. He was rushed to Christus Hospital - St. Elizabeth.
He died Monday of heat exhaustion, according to Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Anthony Turner.
Beaumont's KBMT (Channel 12) reported on its website Monday that Smith and 34-year-old Otis Alford were injured in separate, unrelated events, according to Dennis Gifford with the East Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association. Both firefighters received immediate treatment by paramedics on standby for the intense training.
Alford was near recovery at a hospital Monday morning, according to the television station. He was not listed as a St. Elizabeth patient late Monday.
Turner said he did not have details about what went wrong in the training or how Smith was overcome by heat.
FRM/FFN on Rehab:
The Importance of Rehab (Talifarro)
Tips for Effective Fireground Rehab (Robertson)
The training, offered by the East Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association, is an advanced survival course designed to help firefighters and their crews emerge from interior structural infernos alive, according to the course website. The two-day session is described as "extremely challenging, intensely physical and will take the student to his/her limit. Because of the difficulties some may experience, paramedics are on hand to monitor students before, during, and after each exercise."
Gifford said symptoms of heat illness can emerge quickly.
"We as firefighters have to become more aware and put our pride away and be willing to understand we are human," Gifford told the station. "We just need to become more in touch with our physical capabilities."
Smith, who was Station 1 captain, had been with the department for five years and previously served on the Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department's board of directors.
"He was the hardest working guy I ever met," said friend and fellow firefighter David DeMartino, adding that Sunday's exercise was another example of Smith going the extra mile in all aspects of his life. "He had gone to better himself as a firefighter."
Smith was a district manager with the Zale Corporation. He leaves a wife and two elementary-school-age children, department officials said.
Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story