The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Lieutenant Neil B. Cope, 46, of the North Belle Vernon Volunteer Fire Department on July 16, 2019.
The North Belle Vernon Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched at 0132hrs to assist on a mutual aid residential fire. Lieutenant Cope was part of the engine crew assigned to staging in full PPE and SCBA with masks doffed. After approximately 45 minutes the crew was released by command and cleared the scene. After returning to his residence, Lieutenant Cope spoke to his wife at 0730hrs via phone. His wife then attempted to call him multiple times during the day without success. At approximately 1600hrs his wife came home and found him not breathing and cold to the touch on the floor of the bedroom. EMS was called and Lieutenant Cope was pronounced deceased at home. The cause and nature of death are under investigation.
Tribute is being paid to Lieutenant Cope at http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/
To date, 27 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2019. Year-to-date and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online at https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/ff_fatality_reports.html
Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.