Authorities identify Pascoag firefighter who collapsed, died

Lt. Richard Jenks,  a 33-year veteran Pascoag firefighter who collapsed at the scene of a chimney fire, died at a hospital Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (WJAR/Submitted photo)

A 33-year veteran Pascoag firefighter died while battling a chimney fire at a home on Hill Road.

Authorities later identified him as 72-year-old Lt. Richard Jenks.

Rescuers performed CPR on the veteran firefighter before he was taken to Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, where he died.

"At this time, we'd like to have people say prayers for the family and their children and grandchildren.

This just doesn't affect the Burrillville companies. This affects all firemen and policemen and EMS in the field nationwide," said Deputy Chief Keith Carter of the Pascaog Fire Department.

Jenks, who was also a United States Air Force veteran, has been with the department for more than 30 years. Flags in town were flying at half-mast as fellow firefighters remember their brother.

“He enjoyed what he did and he did it right up until the end," Carter said. “Close friend. Nice guy. Was an EMT. An excellent firefighter. Just an all-around good guy.”

Carter also said Jenks inspired all the first responders that he worked with.

“(Jenks was) very involved in the fire department. There isn’t a call that I can remember -- a rescue call that I can remember -- that man wasn’t on it," Carter said. "Anything you needed, he was always smiling.”

The fire at the single-family log home was reported at about 9 a.m. Authorities said it started in the chimney, with firefighters arriving quickly to keep it from spreading to the rest of the house.

“The fire had grown inside the chimney with probably some build-up of some creosote, so they were in there trying to extinguish the fire," Deputy State Fire Marshal Michael Sweeney said.

Carter said Jenks tripped at some point inside the home. Per protocol, he was taken outside for a routine well-being check. That's where he collapsed, with EMTs at the scene performing CPR on him before he was transported.

"This unfortunate event marks the first line?of?duty death in the 114?year history of the Pascoag Fire Department, and only the second in the 114?year history of the fire service in the town of Burrillville. Mutual aid responded from nearby towns in Massachusetts and other villages in Burrillville," according to a statement from the department.

There were no other injuries to residents or firefighters. The home sustained some fire and water damage to the chimney, walls, and floor.

Final arrangements for Jenks are pending, authorities also noted.

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