Maps Reports WLF Links Media Articles Multimedia Comments


Incident Name: Outdoor Grass Fire
Date: 3/14/09
Personnel: William Roger Vorwark
Age: 49
Agency/Organization: Odessa Fire & Rescue Protection District, Odessa MO
Position: firefighter, lieutenant

Summary: Lieutenant Vorwark was a career firefighter for the Odessa Fire and Rescue Protection District. He was also permitted to respond as a paid-on-call firefighter when he was off duty. On a day off, he responded to two wildland fires. At the second incident, firefighters were unable to access the fire with brush trucks. Lieutenant Vorwark wore full structural protective clothing, without an SCBA, and used a portable water backpack to fight the fire for nearly 40 minutes. As Lieutenant Vorwark and other firefighters rested, Lieutenant Vorwark suddenly collapsed. CPR was initiated and a ground ambulance and medical helicopter were called to the scene. Lieutenant Vorwark was carried by a tractor to a paved roadway. An automated external defibrillator (AED) was attached and delivered a shock with no change in condition. Paramedics arrived and continued to treat Lieutenant Vorwark. He was flown by medical helicopter to a local hospital where treatment was continued until he was pronounced dead over an hour after his collapse. The cause of death was listed as a heart attack.


Horizontal line


Odessa Fire & Rescue Protection District, Odessa MO

Return to top

Horizontal line

Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • NIOSH Report: Lieutenant Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death at Scene of a Brush Fire - Missouri (46 K pdf) Please read the entire report.

    NIOSH offers the following recommendations to reduce the risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest among fire fighters at this, and other FDs, across the country.

    • Provide mandatory pre-placement and periodic medical evaluations to all fire fighters consistent with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582.
    • Ensure fire fighters are cleared for duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of firefighting, the personal protective equipment used by fire fighters, and the various components of NFPA 1582.
    • Develop a comprehensive wellness/fitness program for fire fighters to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and improve cardiovascular capacity.
    • Ensure that an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available at all emergency responses and planned training.
    • Perform a preplacement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation.
    • Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear SCBA as part of the Fire Department’s medical evaluation program.

Return to top
Horizontal line Links:



Return to top

Horizontal line

Media Articles and Reports

  • Odessa Firefighter Dies In Line Of Duty,

    Chief Releasing Little Information At Family's Request

    3/15/09 | (no longer online)

    Odessa MO -- An Odessa firefighter died in the line of duty on Saturday, and investigators are looking into the cause. The city's fire chief said the firefighter died while working a grass fire in the Southeastern Odessa Fire District. The chief said he wouldn't release any further information at this time at the request of the family. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of the firefighter's death. The fire chief said the family is receiving assistance from the Firefighter's Association of Missouri.

Return to top

Horizontal line

Photos, Videos, & Tributes

USFA Memrial Database: William Roger Vorwark


Return to top

Contributors to this article: 

WFF Boots & Wreath logo. Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation