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Incident Name:
Date: 11/26/06
Personnel: Hector "Sandy" McClune
Age: 76
Agency/Organization: Millerton Fire Department, Moorpark, NY
Position: Volunteer, Lieutenant

Summary: Firefighter McClune and approximately 25 firefighters were battling a wildland fire at a local school. Firefighter McClune suddenly collapsed due to a heart attack. Firefighters provided medical treatment and he was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Despite the efforts of firefighters and other responders, Firefighter McClune died at the hospital.

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Remembering Sandy McClune
From The Millerton News: Link to Online Article
November, 29, 2007

MILLERTON — Emotions ran deep Sunday afternoon, as firefighters from around the Harlem Valley gathered at the Millerton firehouse to remember Hector "Sandy" McClune. McClune died Nov. 26, 2006, in the line of duty, while fighting a brush fire behind the Millerton Elementary School building. His death was the only death the department has seen while a firefighter was on duty.

"It was like losing a member of your family," said the Millerton Fire Department’s Lenny Morrison. "Sandy was not only a brother fireman, he was a personal friend too."

"The fire department was Sandy’s life away from home. He would be honored by this. I am, I know the family is," said McClune’s widow, Nan. "The fire department has given me a lot of love and support, and my family too. I wouldn’t have made it without them. I thank the fire department from the bottom of my heart."

The tragedy made a deep impact on the fire department and the community. That much was evident by the number of people who attended Sunday’s ceremony, in addition to members from 14 fire companies who were present. "I just want to say thanks to these guys representing their companies," said Morrison. "I know I can rely on them if something ever happens. Thank your companies for all of their help and support." Morrison also acknowledged the Dutchess County Stress Team, which came to the aid of the department after McClune’s death.

"We can’t thank them enough," he said. "They were with us that whole week and beyond." The fire commissioners were also thanked. Commissioner George Lind was on hand to say a few words.

"It’s a great honor and great tribute to Hector ‘Sandy’ McClune that all of these individuals and fire departments are here," he said. "He was a great individual, a gentle giant is what he was. He was a good friend of the fire department and a good friend of Millerton."

Wassaic Fire Chief Robert Boyles praised the way in which all of the departments supported Millerton during its time of loss.

"We became one almost a year ago today," he said. "We all should be very proud of what we do as volunteers, we’re the backbone of the community. We suffered a tremendous loss last year, and it’s an honor to stand up here and speak about Sandy like this."

The department retired McClune’s uniform, and honored his memory with a framed case containing the uniform, turn-out gear, photos, badges and other important mementos related to his service in the department. The Gilded Moon Frame Shop in Millerton was commissioned to do the work.

"It was an absolute honor to work on this memorial with the Millerton Fire Department," said Gilded Moon owner Paul Choma. "The absolute care and love for Sandy was apparent every step of the way." "We’ve put this together to remember Sandy," Morrison said of the memorial. "He’ll be here for the rests of our lives."

John Murphy, of county car No. 1, praised the Millerton Fire Department for its unity and the way in which it handled things following McClune’s passing. "My love for this fire department has grown tremendously," Murphy said. "Certainly to the family and to the membership and to the citizens of this village, I can say you have the finest department I’ve seen."

The tributes clearly made their mark upon the McClune clan. McClune’s son, Jim, addressed firefighters in the crowd. "Thank you all for everything you’ve done," he said. "You made a really hard situation a lot easier." McClune’s granddaughter, Megan, also spoke.

"On behalf of myself and my entire family, thank you to everyone in uniform for being there for us during one of the hardest times we’ve ever been through," she said. "You are everyday heros. I am honored to be a part of this community."

"Thanks to the fire department, our family and friends for their love and support," said Nan McClune. "Over the past year we couldn’t have done it without you all.

"This is a closure now. We all have to get on with our lives," she added. "It’s something we will never forget, we don’t want to forget. It’s one day at a time."

© Copyright 2007 by


Millerton Mourns Loss of Hector ‘Sandy’ McClune
From The Millerton News: Link to Online Article
November, 30, 2006

MILLERTON — Many knew Hector "Sandy" McClune as a friendly, happy man, always ready with a joke. And that’s exactly how his wife of 55 years wants to remember him. "He was a very loving, kidding around guy," Nan McClune said. "He was just full of jokes and pranks and things. He was very easy going."

McClune died Sunday afternoon, after responding to a small grass fire behind the Millerton Elementary School, not far from his home. He was on the scene of the fire, along with his fellow firefighters, when he collapsed.

"When Sandy arrived he started to assist with the extinguishment attempts, then he collapsed," said Dutchess County Coordinator of the Crisis Response Team Steve Tuttle. "A family member was with him when he arrived, and when he collapsed he was immediately attended to by fellow firefighters. Immediate resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful."

The 76-year-old Scottish immigrant was transported to Sharon Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. "It was presumed that he died of a heart attack at the scene, but autopsy results are pending, which will be released to the family first," Tuttle added.

Meanwhile, family and friends of the fallen firefighter are trying to wrap their minds around the fact that the man they admired is now gone.

"We’re trying to remember Sandy how he always was, trying to joke around with everybody," said Millerton Fire Department Chief Keith Roger. "He didn’t take things too seriously, only when he needed to, and then, when you least expected it, there was Sandy."

Roger said one of the most surprising things he’s learned since McClune’s death is how many people he knew. "It’s kind of amazing how many people he knew and touched," he said. That was all part of his charm, according to his wife, who added that those who knew Sandy are now reaching out to her.

"Millerton is a close-knit family," she said. "If something happens everybody is there to help out, and they’ve been extremely generous with us. It’s going to be hard to thank everyone, especially the fire department and the Valentine Funeral Home, friends and neighbors."

The McClunes have lived in the Harlem Valley for many years. They first emigrated to Canada after leaving Scotland in 1951, and then moved to Maryland before moving for a short while to Ancramdale and then finally settling in Millerton. McClune ran a dairy operation out of the Kimball farm, which he rented, and later worked for S.E. Kimball & Son Farm Equipment. He also served as highway superintendent for the town of North East and worked for the Salisbury School in Salisbury, Conn.

He not only had a strong work ethic, he also had strong family ties.

"He was a good husband and father, and grandfather. And he was a good provider," Nan McClune said. "You get past the stage of doing things and you’re just happy to be home. We were close with our family and it’s very supportive. I don’t know what I would do without them."

The patriarch also had a love of nature and of anything mechanical. "He loved to tinker," she added. "He loved to fix the tractor and pick potatoes and hunt and ice fish. He very much enjoyed this area." He also loved volunteering his time at the fire department, which he did for 41 years. McClune’s death actually marks the department’s first in the line of duty since its inception, according to Roger.

"A line-of-duty death is probably the first and worst nightmare that any chief can imagine in any department on the face of the world to happen," he said. "This would be Millerton’s first line-of-duty death. It’s definitely impacting the others. I think everybody is still sort of in a state of shock at this point."

Calling hours will be Thursday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Valentine Funeral Home on Park Street in the village. The fire department is giving McClune a full firefighter’s funeral the following day. The funeral will be Friday, Dec. 1, at 10 a.m. in front of the Valentine Funeral Home with a procession through the village ending at the Irondale Cemetery on Route 22 just north of the traffic light. A reception will follow for all visiting fire departments at the Millerton fire station.

© Copyright 2006 by

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