TRUMANN, AR - A northeast Arkansas community is in mourning following the death of its fire chief.
Trumann Fire Chief Rick Winkles, 53, died after he collapsed while battling a blaze on Tuesday.
Winkles suffered an apparent heart attack while working at the scene of an accidental grass fire that spread to and destroyed a nearby residence along Hatche Coon Road around 5 p.m., according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) website.
Winkles was treated by fellow responders at the scene and then taken to the hospital where he died about an hour later.
The USFA says so far this year there have been 7 on the job firefighter deaths recorded.
More details from firehouse.com:
Colleagues say Trumann, who had been with the department for 28 years, had planned to retire in a few months.
He started as a volunteer in 1986 and joined the department full time on April 1, 1988.
He made his way up through the ranks and was appointed interim fire chief in December of 2004 when Fire Chief Gary Anderson retired. He was named fire chief in April of 2004.
He has worked with the youth sports program in Trumann, coached for the junior and senior baseball league and worked on various committee's within the city including the building of the new sports complex.
"I have seen a lot of changes in the department during my years here," Winkles told a reporter during an interview a few years back. "When I started we were in the same building as the police department, but now we have a new fire station, two brand new fire trucks, new equipment and a new fire safety trailer we received through a grant program."
The fire safety trailer is beneficial for all citizens of Trumann in teaching fire safety and fire prevention.
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