Colleagues mourn death of veteran RI fire lieutenant

Deputy Fire Chief Keith Carter said Lt. Richard Jenks "made a room light up when he walked in, smiling, always caring about the other person"

Duty Death: Richard Jenks - [Pascoag, Rhode Island]


By Mark Reynolds
The Providence Journal

PASCOAG, R.I. — A 72-year-old volunteer firefighter died Wednesday morning after he was stricken while firefighters battled a chimney fire at a log cabin home deep in the woods near the Massachusetts border.

The cause of Pascoag fire Lt. Richard Jenks' death was not known, but Jenks tripped and fell in the log cabin while fighting the fire and then collapsed while standing outside, said Deputy Fire Chief Keith Carter.

Lt. Richard Jenks died after tripping and falling while battling a fire in a log cabin and collapsing later. (Photo/Pascoag Fire Dept.)
Lt. Richard Jenks died after tripping and falling while battling a fire in a log cabin and collapsing later. (Photo/Pascoag Fire Dept.)

Jenks is the first Pascoag firefighter to die in the line of duty in the Fire Department's 114-year history, Carter said.

 
Veteran firefighter dies after collapsing at scene of Burrillville house fire

Pascoag Deputy Fire Chief Keith Carter talks about fire Lt. Richard Jenks, who was fatally stricken at scene of a fire in Burrillville on Wednesday. Video: Mark Reynolds / The Providence Journal Read our story --->> https://goo.gl/iKRDxj

Posted by The Providence Journal on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

He was a 33-year veteran of the department, a veteran of the Air Force and a retired employee of the Pascoag Utility District, Carter said.

Jenks, a retired utility worker, tripped in the home. As a result, the department's safety officer ordered him to leave the house to get checked out, said Carter. Jenks, Carter said, argued, saying, "I'm all right, I'm all right."

"That's how Richard was. 'No, no ... I am here to put the fire out. That is what I am going to do. I ain't going anywhere else,'" Carter said.

"He refused right to the last minute," said Carter.

Standing outside the house, Jenks collapsed, Carter said.

The husband, father, grandfather and brother had been one of the first firefighters to arrive at the chimney fire in the log cabin in thick woods at 2044 Hill Rd., a dirt road.

A total of about 50 firefighters went to the house in response to an alarm at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, Carter said.

Those first to the scene, including Jenks, encountered smoke and saw flames mostly from the chimney on their arrival, said Carter.

Jenks collapsed at about 9 a.m., he said.

The state fire marshal's investigation into the cause of the chimney fire continues, Carter said, but it appears creosote from the combustion of wood over a period of time built up in the chimney and ignited the fire.

Due to a crack in the chimney liner, the blaze extended into a wall and then into the floor of the two-story, single-family dwelling.

EMS personnel on scene tended to Jenks, who was taken to Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, where he was pronounced dead.

Carter, who was emotional at times during a press conference, asked the media to give the Jenks family time to grieve.

He described Jenks as a friend who was loved by everyone at the department.

 

Bunting is now draped outside of Pascoag Fire Dept. Our condolences to the family and friends of Lt. Richard Jenks. Thank you for your service, sir.

Posted by WPRI 12 on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"He made a room light up when he walked in, smiling, always caring about the other person."

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Copyright 2018 The Providence Journal

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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