- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A 24-year veteran of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services department died Wednesday on the scene of a two-alarm apartment fire, the 100th city firefighter to die in the line of duty.

Lt. Kevin McRae was a member of Engine Company 6, which fought a blaze that engulfed a ninth-story apartment Wednesday morning in the Northwest neighborhood of Shaw. He emerged from the building after the fire was extinguished and collapsed, according to city officials.

Firefighters across the city mourned Lt. McRae’s death, lining up outside MedStar Washington Hospital Center to pay respects as his body was transported and draping black bunting over the entrance of Engine 6.

The 44-year-old’s death was especially tragic: His cousin, James McRae III, died in a similar manner while on duty with the fire department in 2007. James McRae was the last D.C. firefighter to die in the line of duty. He suffered a heart attack while stationed at Engine Company 12.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters nationwide, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Of 1,047 on-duty firefighter deaths from 2004 through 2013, 488 died from heart attacks.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Lt. McRae’s crew was the first to arrive at the apartment fire, which broke out in the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW around 8 a.m. Crews battled the blaze for about 50 minutes before it was extinguished.

It was after Lt. McRae had exited the building that officials said he collapsed and was transported to MedStar.

D.C. fire officials said another firefighter and two civilians were injured and transported to hospitals from the scene. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

City leaders praised Lt. McRae’s dedication to his work, with Ms. Bowser calling him a hero and noting that Engine 6 had lost “a brother and a leader.”

“He has been on the job a long time,” the mayor said. “He rose through the ranks from a cadet, and he has mentored a lot of firefighters.”

Baltimore Fire Department officials noted that Lt. McRae and Engine 6 were among those detailed to Baltimore to provide extra assistance during civil unrest there last week.

D.C. Firefighters Association President Ed Smith said the union would keep members apprised of ways to help Lt. McRae’s family, including his wife and three children.

“Today has been a vivid reminder of the stark realities of our job,” Mr. Smith said. “For all members currently on duty and summing duty in the coming days, let’s remain vigilant and focused on our duties at hand and continue to be there for each other during this tough period.”


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