Female Philly firefighter dies in line of duty
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A firefighter was trapped in the basement of a burning row home early Tuesday, becoming the first female member of the Philadelphia Fire Department to die in the line of duty, officials said.
The 11-year veteran was part of the first company deployed to a fire in the basement of the home in the city's West Oak Lane neighborhood at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, fire commissioner Derrick Sawyer said.
Sawyer said she became trapped as commanders were changing tactics and ordering the company to withdraw. He said the firefighter was rushed to Einstein Medical Center with no vital signs and was pronounced dead a short time later.
"We've suffered a tragic loss here this morning," Mayor Michael Nutter said.
Nutter and Sawyer declined to identify the firefighter, saying they had yet to notify her next of kin.
Sawyer and Nutter, speaking at the medical center, praised the Philadelphia native's strong work ethic and the pride she took in working in the busiest engine companies, most recently Engine 64 in the city's Lawncrest neighborhood.
"Very, very good firefighter," Sawyer said.
More than 40 Philadelphia firefighters have been killed in the line of duty since 1943, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters. The last was Capt. Michael Goodwin on April 6, 2013.
The 53-year-old Goodwin died in a roof collapse while battling a fire in a three-story building in the city's Queen Village section.
Sawyer said he set a goal when he became commissioner in June that the department would never lose a member on his watch.
"I've already failed in one of my goals," a somber Sawyer said.
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