ST LOUIS FIREFIGHTER DIES IN THE LINE OF DUTY
MEDICAL EMERGENCY AT STRUCTURE FIRE
We regret to pass on the Line of Duty Death of Fire Captain John Kemper of the Saint Louis (Missouri) Fire Department.
Captain Kemper suffered what was thought to be a shoulder injury while battling a structure fire during the early morning hours of July 5th — a fire that was believed to have been caused by illegal fireworks. Upon evaluation at an emergency department, it was determined that he was actually suffering a heart attack, and he was taken to surgery.
Captain Kemper was 1 of 4 Saint Louis firefighters transported during a 12-hour period for injuries sustained while fighting numerous fires suspected of being a result of illegal fireworks.
Captain Kemper died at his home one week later from apparent complications of the heart attack. He was 59 years old and had served the citizens of Saint Louis for over 24 years. He is survived by his wife and adult daughter.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Our condolences to all those affected by this loss. Rest In Peace.
He looks like another overweight firefighter. The stress of fighting the fire and heavy weight will eventually bring a toll on his heart- RIP.
4th of July fireworks cause dozens of injuries in St. Louis area, keeping EMS busy
By Allison Colburn, Erin Heffernan and Nassim Benchaabane St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 5, 2017
ST. LOUIS, MO • This Fourth of July holiday left four firefighters injured, at least 13 buildings ablaze and a church congregation reeling after a fireworks show gone wrong.
As happens every year, the holiday delivered a round of chaos.
Over a 24-hour period, the St. Louis Fire Department received 335 calls for fires and 270 medical calls, Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said at a Wednesday press conference. An average day produces between 200 and 225 calls for fires and 225 EMS calls.
Jenkerson said the department was prepared to be busy, but this year seemed to be worse than usual. The totals did not include emergency calls to Fair St. Louis in Forest Park, where EMS received 114 calls over a three-day period.
Especially concerning, Jenkerson said, was that four firefighters received burn injuries while putting out fireworks-related fires. As of Wednesday afternoon, one firefighter was still in the hospital in serious condition. The injuries were not life-threatening.
Jenkerson did not release the identities of the injured firefighters. He said he expects they will not be able to return to work for about six to eight weeks.
“This costs the city taxpayers a tremendous amount of resources,” Jenkerson said. “Those resources cost money, so it’s something we probably need to look at in a different way and come out a little stronger on the restrictions.”
Chaos at church display
Meanwhile, in St. Charles, a church fireworks show quickly became a terrifying scene Tuesday after a firework exploded on the ground, injuring two children, according to the St. Charles fire department.
Fire crews responded to reports of the explosion at a private show about 9:20 p.m. at Bogey Hills Baptist Church at 1721 Treetop Drive.
A large fireworks display misfired, igniting the entire cache of fireworks on site, fire officials say.
One child was taken to a hospital with burns, and parents of another reported injuries to 911, the fire department said.
Chelsae Oelze, of O’Fallon, was in the front row with her family for the show before the explosion.
“I went running with my 2-year-old in my arms and everyone else went running and screaming, grabbing children,” Oelze said.
Oelze said a chair and blanket near where she was sitting caught on fire in the chain reaction of explosions.
The fireworks display was a private show so there were no regulations or permits required in St. Charles, according to the fire department.
Accidents cause injuries
Several people were injured due to two fireworks accidents Tuesday night in Jefferson County, said Ron Harder with the Rock Community Fire Protection District. Three of those injured were taken to hospitals.
One of the victims was a man who lost several fingers when a firework he was holding in his hand went off in the 1100 block of Northward Trails Drive in Imperial, Harder said. The instructions required the firework to be put in a tube before being lit.
An elderly woman and a man were taken to a hospital after an accident about 9:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge at 1515 Miller Road near Arnold.
A firework planted in the ground apparently tipped over after it had been lit, showering a large crowd of people with sparks, he said. The elderly woman had a burn on her hand and the man was injured in one of his eyes.
Several others were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
The lodge did not need a permit for the small size of fireworks they were shooting, Harder said. Fireworks are legal in Jefferson County, but Harder says every year amateur fireworks enthusiasts are hurt in accidents that could be avoided.
“Please, leave them to the professionals,” he said. “If you do have fireworks, please read the instructions fully, and make sure they’re shot in an organized, orderly fashion with adult supervision in a wide open area.”
Don't play with fireworks or you'll get burned
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Fireworks are illegal in St. Louis city, unincorporated St. Louis County and in some municipalities, but easy access to fireworks stands in nearby counties where they are legal compounds the problem. Using them in city limits could result in a $500 fine or up to 90 days in jail.
In the month around July Fourth, an average of 250 people a day in the U.S. visit the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
From Saturday to Tuesday, St. Louis-area hospitals under SSM Health treated 32 fireworks-related injuries, said SSM spokesman Jason Merrill. A spokeswoman for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Kara Price Shannon, said the hospital has received six patients with injuries caused by fireworks since Friday.
Jenkerson said the fire department was still responding to fireworks emergencies Wednesday, and he thinks there will be many more calls over the next several days.
“I’m asking people to just stop,” Jenkerson said. “You can’t be doing this.”