Second Detroit firefighter dies in two days while on duty

fire department

Just one day after a firefighter was found dead in his southwest Detroit firehouse, the captain of the city’s fire boat died today after an apparent heart attack.

Firefighters called for an ambulance at the fire boat station and tried to resuscitate Capt. Walter Szelag at 4:17 p.m., but he was pronounced dead at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

“We need an ambulance here,” a firefighter radioed to dispatch. “It looks like I have a crew member with a heart attack.”

At 5:47 p.m., a dispatcher delivered the sad news to firefighters: “Central office regrets to inform you of the untimely death of Capt. Walter Szelag of Fire Boat 1.”

On Thursday morning, firefighters found Sgt. Vince Smith dead at Engine 48’s firehouse in southwest Detroit. The city said the 23-year veteran of the Fire Department appeared to die of natural causes.



Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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