Bill Watson Matthews, Fire Chief

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At 1554hrs on February 14, 2017, Chief Matthews and the members of his fire department were dispatched to a wildland fire threatening structures in their community. Chief Matthews responded to the scene as the driver of an engine apparatus. He met other firefighters at the scene.

The fire was threatening to spread to a church, so firefighters attacked the fire to prevent its approach. Chief Matthews repositioned the engine as firefighters advanced hoselines. When he failed to advance the apparatus, firefighters went to see what was wrong and discovered Chief Matthews slumped over the steering wheel of the apparatus.

He was removed from the vehicle and CPR was initiated by firefighters at approximately 1645hrs. An ambulance arrived and transported Chief Matthews to the hospital. Chief Matthews was pronounced dead at 1754hrs. The cause of death was a heart attack.

Incident Location: Behind the church on Graves Keys Road in Bassfield (U.S. National Grid: 16R BV 4455 8916)

Department information

Bassfield Volunteer Fire Department
194 Gen. Robert E. Blount DR POB 100
U.S. National Grid: 16R BV 3947 8788
Bassfield, Mississippi 39421

Chief: Pending

Bill Watson Matthews was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.
Age: 71
Rank: Fire Chief
Classification: Volunteer
Incident date: February 14, 2017 16:45
Date of death: February 14, 2017
Cause of death: Stress/Overexertion
Nature of death: Heart Attack
Activity type: Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Outdoor Property