North Carolina Fire Lieutenant Dies After Falling Ill

The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Lieutenant Donald “Reid” Key II, 31, of the Whispering Pines Fire Department on December 27, 2016.

On Sunday, December 25, at 1617 hours, Station 51 was dispatched to an Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA). Lieutenant Key responded as the Driver of 516 (Tanker); however, was cancelled upon arrival by the Chief who had confirmed the AFA was accidental and no assistance was needed. Upon returning to the station, Lieutenant Key assisted several fellow firefighters with washing, cleaning equipment, repacking hose on 511 (returning from 2nd alarm structure fire). Later that evening after returning home, Lieutenant Key began experiencing a headache. The next morning (12/26/2016), the headache worsened, at which time Key’s wife drove him to Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, NC. After being evaluated, Lieutenant Key was airlifted to UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital where he arrived midday (12/26/2016). He passed away at approximately 1345 hours on 12/27/2016. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be reported.

Tribute is being paid to Lieutenant Key II at

To date, 89 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2016.  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.

North Carolina Firefighter Dies Following Training

A North Carolina firefighter has died following departmental training, according to the United States Fire Administration.

Firefighter James R. Varnell of the Bakertown Volunteer Fire Department was at the fire department attending training. As Varnell was preparing to depart, he became ill and fellow responders quickly came to his aid with basic life support measures.

As more assistance arrived, advanced life support was provided as Varnell was transported to the hospital where he succumbed to a nature and cause of injury still to be determined.

Varnell was 53 years old.

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