USFA: New York On-Duty Death

Victim suffered a torn aorta during a May 2020 fire

United States Fire Administration

The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Second Assistant Chief James P. Brooks Jr., 45, of the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company on September 18, 2020.

On May 2, 2020, while responding to a structure fire, Second Assistant Fire Chief James P. Brooks Jr. thought he pulled a muscle. While tending to his duties when at the scene, Brooks started to feel intense pain. He was transported to the Rutland Regional Medical Center in Vermont where it was determined that he suffered a torn aorta. He was then airlifted to the University of Vermont Medical Center. During this hospital stay, Brooks suffered multiple complications including a blood clot, kidney damage, and a heart attack. A subsequent emergency operation resulted in Brooks experiencing three strokes that left him confined to a wheelchair with only the use of his right arm. Brooks was eventually released from the hospital on July 31, 2020. Brooks passed away, however, at his sister’s residence on September 18, 2020.

Tribute is being paid to Second Assistant Chief Brooks, Jr. at

To date, 62 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2020. Year-to-date and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online at

Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.

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