NH mourns off-duty death of firefighter less than 1 month after death of assistant chief

Manchester Firefighter James A. "Jim" McNeil was found dead shortly after being reported missing; Assistant Chief Brendan Burns died by suicide in September

Paul Feely
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Grief counselors have been called in to assist Manchester fire personnel mourning the loss of a 20-year member of the city's fire department.

Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan issued a statement Thursday afternoon announcing the death of Firefighter James A. "Jim" McNeil. He was 49.

The Manchester Fire Department is mourning the off-duty death of Firefighter James A.
The Manchester Fire Department is mourning the off-duty death of Firefighter James A. "Jim" McNeil, 49, a 20-year veteran of the department. McNeil was found dead shortly after being reported missing; his death comes less than a month after the suicide of the department's assistant chief. (Photo/City of Manchester, NH Fire Department)

"We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the members of the Manchester Fire Department as we mourn his loss."

According to Goonan, McNeil's family reported him missing on Thursday, Oct. 22.

"After a brief investigation he was located by local authorities and we are grateful for their efforts," said Goonan in a news release.

In the statement, Goonan refers to McNeil's death as "untimely."

"This was just a complete shock," said Goonan in a phone interview Thursday. "He was a good fireman, a good employee, and very well respected around here. This is still pretty fresh, it's just a tragedy."

Goonan said his department got a call early Thursday that McNeil was missing. The next update they received was when he was found deceased.

"That's really all we know right now," said Goonan. "We're still trying to process it all."

According to Goonan, McNeil joined the Manchester fire department on July 16, 2000. He was assigned to Station 8, located on East Industrial Park Drive.

"McNeil's untimely death is a shock to the department and will be difficult to process," said Goonan in a statement. "The Granite State Critical Incident Stress Management Team will be activated to provide grief counseling services for our members as they try to come to terms with his loss. We are grateful for their services."

McNeil is the second firefighter in the department to die in less than a month.

Brendan Burns, the assistant fire chief, was found dead Sept. 30. Burns killed himself after being notified by Londonderry police that he was under investigation for sexual assault.


(c)2020 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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