NY firefighter dies from complications from bee sting
Joseph Manuse, 48, served with the Gates-Chili Fire Department since 1989 and was considered a leader in fire prevention education
By FireRescue1 Staff
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Joseph Manuse, a long-time firefighter with the Gates-Chili Fire Department in New York, passed away over the holiday weekend after suffering complications from a bee sting.
Manuse, 48, was stung by a bee while visiting family in Gates, the Democrat & Chronicle reported. Family members started life-saving efforts immediately, and Manuse was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Ted Aroesty, executive director with the Brighton Fire District and member of the FireRescue1/Fire Chief editorial advisory board, described Manuse as a leader in fire prevention in the area. "He helped our district when we began our program years ago,” he said. “ He spearheaded to bring all the departments in the area together to share ideas and best practices. He was incredibly selfless. His untimely passing has rocked our entire community.”
Aroesty added that everyone knew Manuse as “Fireman Joe.” “I remember when we met years ago, he told me that he wanted kids to be comfortable, to see a fireman and identify with them,” he said. “He loved being out in his community, especially off duty and having kids say, ‘Hi, Fireman Joe’; that way he knew he was making an impact."
Retired Chief Jim Harrington, who was the Gates Fire District chief from 2005 until 2018, said Manuse first came into the fire department when Harrington was the volunteer battalion chief at Station #2. “He was a real community servant for all the years he volunteered for the department,” Harrington said.
Harrington recalls that in 2007, the department began looking at the potential of a fire prevention position, and in 2008, Joe interviewed for the job along with several other highly qualified individuals. “Joe was behind the curve in regard to his experience in the fire prevention arena, but due to his high energy and his numerous years of working as a volunteer, we decided to bring him on staff,” he said.
“The job at first was the basic programs of pre-fire planning and visiting the schools with the fire truck during fire prevention week,” Harrington continued. “It evolved into so many other facets of the fire service that we didn’t see in our future. Joe had the vision to take the initiative and begin to develop into so many programs, formal fire prevention curriculum for K through 8th grade, summer fire academy for school-aged children, an active smoke detector installation program, certification as a building inspector (he went down to Hurricane Sandy to assist with the damage assessment of structures), adult fire academy for citizen, just to name a few.”
Manuse served with the Gates-Chili Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter since November 1989 and was the fire prevention officer for the Gates Fire District for 11 years. He held numerous positions within the fire district and department over the years, including captain, assistant chief and public information officer.
"For Joe, it wasn't a job, it was his life," said Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode. "He was the face of the department, an expert in fire prevention and was the kind of employee you wish you had 10 more of. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him."
Harrington shared one final story about the impact that Manuse had in the community.
“It was during Christmas recess, the kids were off school, it was an ordinary weekday when we received a call for an attached garage fire with possible extension into the house,” Harrington said. During the interview with the family after the fire was out I asked the young boy what happened he said ‘I saw some fire in the garage but did not go inside, I closed the garage door, went and got my mom and we called 911 from outside the house, that’s what Fireman Joe told us to do if there was ever a fire’ Now that’s a success story for sure.”