Medical examiners will perform an autopsy to identify the cause of death
St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle with permission
HOUSTON (Houston Chronicle) – A 36-year-old Houston firefighter died Saturday evening after collapsing at his station.
“It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of our Houston Firefighters,” Chief Sam Peña said. “He was performing his assigned station duties when he experienced a medical emergency and did not survive. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.”
Kenneth Stavinoha collapsed about 6 p.m. at Station 27 from “unknown reasons,” Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton said. Stavinoha is survived by his wife, Jessica.
“We’re in shock,” Lancton said. “It’s devastating.”
Medical examiners will perform an autopsy to identify the cause of death, Lancton said, adding that firefighters are now focused on supporting his family and preparing his funeral.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city is “saddened” to learn of Stavinoha’s passing.
“We are grateful for Stavinoha’s service, unwavering courage as a first responder and his dedication to protecting citizens since joining HFD in January 2018. I offer my prayers and condolences,” he said. “May the memory of Stavinoha serve as a blessing to all who loved him and to those who worked closely with him in the Houston Fire Department.”
According to the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office 2018 annual report on firefighter fatalities, 42 percent of firefighter deaths in Texas since 2001 — 38 deaths — were attributed to a medical condition.
Stavinoha’s death marks at least the fourth time since 2012 that a Houston firefighter has died in the line of duty from medical causes and comes two months after another Harris County first responder died on the job. In July, 39-year-old Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Omar Diaz died after collapsing at the scene of a stabbing in northwest Harris County. Medical examiners later ruled the death was caused by a pulmonary embolism.
In March 2016, Cadet Steven Whitfield II, 32, collapsed during a training exercise and was pronounced dead hours later. Medical examiners later ruled his death was caused by hyperthermia (heatstroke) and dehydration.
Houston Fire Capt. Dwight Bazile died Feb. 21, 2015, two days after suffering a heart attack and collapsing while responding to fire in south Houston.
In July 2014, 46-year-old Daniel Groover collapsed and died Wednesday while battling a fire in a vacant home in Kingwood.
Senior Captain Thomas W. Dillion, 49, fell ill at the scene of a cooking fire in west Houston in March 2012 and was pronounced dead hours later.