Carthage Fire, family and friends, remember fallen firefighter; Last call: 18 years ago today

Steve Fierro, Carthage Firefighter, died in the line of duty February 18, 2004

CARTHAGE, Mo. – On this date February 18, 2004, Carthage Fire Department Firefighter Steve Fierro died while fighting a mutual aid fire south of Carthage, 1630 US-59, Bronc Busters, a large restaurant and bar. He is remembered at the National Firefighters Memorial in Maryland as a Line of Duty Death.

According to the US Fire Administration the day of the fatal fire, “MO Firefighter Fierro and members of his engine company were dispatched to a mutual aid structure fire involving a large bar, Bronc Busters Restaurant and Lounge near Diamond, Missouri.

Once on-scene, firefighters observed heavy smoke but could not locate the source of the fire. Firefighter Fierro was equipped with an SCBA, integrated PASS device, and a helmet-mounted thermal imaging camera. He entered the structure with 2 other firefighters on an attack line to search for the seat of the fire.

Initially, conditions were clear with only light smoke and good visibility. Conditions worsened rapidly, and visibility in the structure was reduced to zero. After one of the firefighters with Firefighter Fierro experienced a problem with his SCBA, he was forced to exit the building. The other firefighter with Firefighter Fierro also exited, believing that he had been left alone.

Firefighters and the IC on the exterior of the structure noted structural failure and ordered all firefighters out of the building. Air horns were sounded to signal the evacuation, and the handline that had been advanced by Firefighter Fierro was pulled from the building.

Firefighters noticed that Firefighter Fierro was missing and initiated searches of the building. Approximately 56 minutes after his initial entry, Firefighter Fierro was discovered approximately 25 feet from the entrance. He was found face-down and had been severely burned. Firefighter Fierro’s SCBA and wires from the thermal imaging camera were found entangled in a chair.

According to reports, the entanglement was likely not significant enough to prevent Firefighter Fierro’s escape. Firefighter Fierro was obviously dead and was later removed from the structure. The cause of death for Firefighter Fierro was listed as smoke inhalation. His blood carbon dioxide level was found to be 51 percent.” [SOURCE: US Fire Administration]

Fierro is memorialized and honored in the Carthage Hall of Heroes.  He was inducted in 2016.

Steve Fierro was born in Modesto, CA on December 19, 1963. His family moved to Carthage in 1973, where Steve attended Eugene Field School, Carthage Jr. High School, and graduated from Carthage Sr. High School in 1982 where he participated in track and field and played varsity football. Hewas also active in Student Council, and at Student Government Day, as a precursor to his chosen profession, he served as “fire chief for a day” two years in a row. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hunting, fishing, golf, and baseball.

In 1984 he married Teresa Harryman and they were the parents of two children, Courtney and Caleb. Steve was very involved in his children’s activities and was a devoted husband and father. He was a member of Christ’s Church of Oronogo where he was a member of the hospitality team, and he was honored to serve communion to his church family on a regular basis.

Steve attended the Fire Training Academy at Crowder College, receiving his Firefighter I and II certificates in 1991 and 1992. He began his firefighting career as an Engineer for the Neosho Fire Department. In 1994 he began working for the Carthage Fire Department, fulfilling a lifelong ambition of becoming a firefighter. He also received his EMT license and served his community by working at Newton County Ambulance, METS, and McCune Brooks Hospital. He regularly attended local schools to educate children about fire safety.

Steve joined the Forestry Service and volunteered to fight fires in Florida, California, Oregon, Washington and Montana. Tragically Steve made the ultimate sacrifice, dying of smoke inhalation while serving his community fighting a fire near Diamond, MO on February 18, 2004 at the age of 40.

The Steve Fierro Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by the members of his Carthage High School graduating class and has provided over 30 scholarships to the Missouri Southern State University and Carl Junction Fire Academies. He was honored at the Red Cross annual Hero’s Breakfast in April of 2004, and was inducted into the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial at Emmitsburg, Maryland in 2005. Steve is buried in Park Cemetery, Carthage.” – Carthage Hall of Heroes