Fallen firefighter to be recognized

Sept. 18 ceremony


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - John Hammack, of the Culver area, who died in a tree-felling accident during a fire near Sisters last year, will be honored at a Salem ceremony Sept. 18.Five fallen firefighters, including one from the Culver area, will be recognized Sept. 18, at the state firefighter memorial in Salem.

John Hammack, 58, a professional tree feller employed by R&K Water Service, died Aug. 1, 2013, when he was struck by the top of a tree that he was felling that broke loose and fell on him.

Hammack was working as part of a two-person felling module assigned to Incident 398 on the Sisters Ranger District in the Deschutes National Forest, near Sisters. His work on Incident 398 included the task of felling a large, 64-inch diameter legacy Douglas fir that was struck by lightning, which set the top on fire.

District personnel took initial action late in the day of July 31, 2013, but they did not have the time or proper tools to safely control the fire without taking undue risk, which included felling the tree. The mission on Aug. 1, 2013, was for the felling partners to fell the burning tree, which was not considered a particularly unusual assignment.

At about 9:11 a.m., after several actions to prepare for a safe felling environment, Hammack was returning to the base of the tree when a large portion of the top of the tree burned out, broke loose and tragically fell directly onto Hammack, killing him instantly, while indirectly striking and injuring his felling partner.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Fire officials carry a wreath to remember fallen firefighters.The Oregon Board on Public Safety Standards and Training unanimously approved the addition of five firefighters to the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial at its meeting July 24. Three of the additions, including Hammack, are from the 2013 wildfire season, and the other two, through the historic recognition process.

The names will be added to the memorial that currently honors 163 fallen structural, airport and wildland firefighters from Oregon who have died in the line of duty on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 1 p.m. on the campus of the Oregon Public Safety Academy, 4190 Aumsville Highway S.E., Salem.

The Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial is a tribute to career and volunteer fire service personnel and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting lives and property across the state.

Others to be recognized from the 2013 season include Jesse Trader, 19, a volunteer firefighter who died on Aug. 6, 2013, at 7:20 a.m., while working on the Big Windy Complex fire in Josephine County, and Oscar Montano-Garcia, 50, a wildland firefighter, who collapsed and died of a medical condition Aug. 25, 2013, while working on the Nabob Fire in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near the Oregon/California border.

Two others include Tony Chapin, 19, a firefighter with the Willamina Fire Department, who died Sept. 24, 1998, in a motor vehicle accident while en route to a required paramedic class, and Melvin Claude Richardson, 18, an Oregon National Guard firefighter recruited to fight the McKenzie Bridge Fire in the Willamette National Forest, who died Sept. 6, 1935, when he was struck by a falling snag.

More information on the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial and the names of the men and women it honors can be found online at www.oregon.gov/DPSST/FC/FallenFireFighterMemorial.shtml.




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