Line of DutyNews

Fireboat captain is second from Detroit FD to die on duty in as many days

Steve Neavling at reports that Detroit Fire Department Capt. Walter Szelag died yesterday (Friday) afternoon after having an apparent heart attack while working at Fire Boat 1. The death comes a day after Detroit Fire Department Sgt. Vince Smith was found dead inside the quarters of Engine 48 (details further down).

Here are some details from on Capt. Szelag’s death:

“We need an ambulance here,” a firefighter radioed to dispatch. “It looks like I have a crew member with a heart attack.”

At 5:47 p.m., a dispatcher delivered the sad news to firefighters: “Central office regrets to inform you of the untimely death of Capt. Walter Szelag of Fire Boat 1.”

It’s with great sadness to report another Detroit Firefighter has been lost in the line of duty. Captain Walter Szelag…

Posted by Detroit Public Safety Foundation on Friday, November 20, 2015

MI Detroit sgt vince smith
Sgt. Vince Smith

Hannah Saunders, WJBK-TV:

A Detroit firefighter and longtime veteran died last night while on duty.

Sgt. Vince Smith, a 24-year veteran with Detroit Fire died in his sleep at Engine 48, on Fort St near Marathon Oil refinery.  Smith was assigned to DFD Ladder 13 but he was pulling a duty shift overnight at Engine 48.

“He had a special way that he saw life,” said Battalion Chief Steve Kirschner. “And it was catchy to people around him.”

Smith’s smile was contagious. At an often thankless job, he kept his buddies’ spirits up, anyway he could.

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