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Incident Name: brush fire
Date: Incident date: Sep 10, 2015; Death date: Jan 13, 2016
Personnel: Clarence “Speed” Hartbank
Age: 79
Agency/Organization: Fremont County Fire District, 305 South Smith Rd, Riverton, Wyoming 82501
Position: Deputy Chief

Summary: On September 10, 2015, Deputy Chief Clarence “Speed” Hartbank fell approximately 15 feet through the ceiling of a bunker while fighting a grass and structure fire in rural Fremont County, near Lander, Wyoming. Hartbank suffered second- and third-degree burns over 38 percent of his body, seven broken ribs and a punctured lung. Hartbank was flown to Swedish Medical Center in Colorado and went through numerous surgeries in the months since the incident. On January 13, 2016, Hartbank passed away at the Swedish Medical Center from the injuries he sustained.


Clarence “Speed” Hartbank Clarence “Speed” Hartbank


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fire just off the Eight Mile Road northwest of Riverton, WY


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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Statement from Fremont County Fire Protection District Chief Craig Haslam on 9/11/2015:

    “Fremont County Fire District is deeply saddened to report the injury of two of our firefighters and a Fremont County Sheriff’s Deputy. Thursday, September 10, at 1:20 pm, a grass fire was reported in the area of Eight Mile Road and Rabbit Lane near Lost Wells Butte that was threatening structures.

    During initial attack and size up of the incident Deputy Chief Clarence “Speed” Hartbank along with Deputy Chief Dan Oakley were going to check a burned area that involved a cellar or bunker that was built level with the ground. The bunker was larger than anticipated and as Deputy Chief Hartbank was walking along the edge the ground gave way and he began to fall into the bunker. Deputy Chief Oakley tried to reach Speed unsuccessfully. Speed fell through the ground into the bunker that was still burning. Dan and Sheriff’s Deputy Donovan Detimore entered the front of the bunker and located Speed and removed him.

    Dan and Donovan were both treated and released at the Riverton Hospital. Dan received 1st and 2nd degree burns to his hands and Donovan suffered from smoke and heat inhalation. Speed was transported via air ambulance to the Swedish Medical Burn Center in Denver, CO. He is currently being treated for 2nd degree burns to 38% of his body.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected and their families. Our hats are off to the firefighters who assisted with removing Speed from the area and stayed on scene to finish extinguishing the fire. Special thanks to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office for their help and support.”

  • Statement from Fremont County Fire Protection District Chief Craig Haslam on 1/13/2016:

    It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that today (Wednesday, January 13th, 2016) at 2:30 pm Deputy Chief Clarence “Speed” Hartbank passed away. Speed succumbed to the injuries that he received while fighting a fire on Sept. 10th, 2015. Fremont County Fire Protection District has lost one of its finest and a dear friend. Per Speed’s wishes, his body is being cremated and a memorial service is being planned.

    Chief Haslam

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Speed Hartbank Injured -Firefighter life flighted to denver with burns

    9/10/2015 | Online Article

    (Riverton, Wyo.) - A Fremont County Fire Protection District firefighter, whose identity has not yet been released, is at a Denver burn center today after being injured in a grass/structure fire Thursday afternoon.
    District Chief Craig Haslam said this morning from the road that he is en route to Denver and would have additional information at some point later today.

    Haslam said the Wyoming State Fire Marshal's Office is on the scene of the fire this morning, just off the Eight Mile Road northwest of Riverton, along with local fire investigators, to determine what happened that caused the serious injury. (More at the link)

  • Deputy Chief Speed Hartbank identified as injured firefighter; At Denver Burn Center

    9/12/2015 | Online Article

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • USFA Memorial Database: Clarence “Speed” Hartbank
  • The memorial service for Deputy Chief Speed Hartbank has been scheduled for 2:00 pm on Saturday, January 23rd at the Wind River High School in Pavillion, WY.
  • If you would like to make a donation by cash or check (the preferred methods of payment since it enables 100% of the proceeds to go directly to the Hartbank family), please drop it by or mail it to:

    Fremont County Fire Protection District (Headquarters)

    305 South Smith Street

    Riverton, WY 82501

  • Obituary:

    Clarence "Speed" Hartbank died January 13, 2016, at the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado.

    Speed was born in Moweaqua, Illinois, on May 13, 1936, to Clarence Sr. and Lelah Brookshier Hartbank. He attended schools in the Decatur area, graduating in 1954. He enlisted in the US Navy in 1955 and was stationed aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Princeton (CV 37), where he was educated in mechanics.

    On April 23, 1960, he was wed to Linda Doyle from the Ivesdale area. They made their home in Lincoln, Illinois, where their three children, Keith, Brian and Teresa were born.

    The family moved to Kinnear, Wyoming, in 1970 where Speed utilized his mechanics education by opening a garage in the community. Along with ranching and farming, Speed became a volunteer firefighter for the Morton-Kinnear Fire Department, which later became part of the Fremont County Fire District.

    For 45 years Speed belonged to the firefighter family, being not only a firefighter but an EMS, a Chief, a Captain, a Deputy Chief and was even honored by being chosen as the Fremont County Fireman of the Year.

    Speed eventually hung up his "grease gun" and became the bus supervisor for the Wind River School District at Pavillion. He was always surrounded by his fellow ranchers, farmers and firefighters he considered family. He loved his community whether it was on a fire call, moving cattle, setting pipe or supervising a bus route. He did everything with a big heart and a friendly grin.

    On September 10, 2015, Speed responded to a grass fire with several fire units. During this call, Speed was injured and was flown to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, by air ambulance, suffering burns to 40 percent of his body. He lived the final four months of his life at the hospital.

    To his family growing up he was known as "Sonny," but in Wyoming, he will forever be known as "Speed."

    While embraced by his family, sharing stories and a beer, Speed passed away peacefully with that familiar, friendly grin.

    Funeral services will be held at Wind River High School in Pavillion, Wyoming, on Saturday, January 23, 2016, at 2 p.m.

    Speed is survived by his wife of 55 years, Linda, his three children, Keith, Brian and Teresa; 5 grandchildren he was blessed to watch grow and laugh with, Brayden, Darcie, Brianna, Logan and Riley; his sister Louise Underwood and brother Fred Hartbank, both of Illinois; his uncle Fred Brookshier of Florida and numerous nieces and nephews.

    In lieu of flowers, the family has requested contributions be sent to the Fremont County Fire District, 305 South Smith Road, Riverton, Wyoming 82501 in honor of Speed.

    The Hartbank family expressed a heartfelt thank you for all of your support, cards, calls, thoughts, and prayers.

    Fremont County Fire District, 305 South Smith Rd, Riverton, Wyoming 82501

  • YouTube "Remembering Clarence 'Speed' Hartbank"
  • Flags to fly at half staff in Honor of Deputy Fire Chief Clarence “Speed” Hartbank

    Governor Matthew H. Mead has ordered the U.S. and the State of Wyoming flags be flown at half-staff statewide from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, January 23, 2016, in honor of Fremont County Firefighter, Deputy Chief Clarence “Speed” Hartbank who passed away on January 13, 2016 from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Deputy Chief Hartbank served the Fremont County Department for 45 years.


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Contributors to this article: RJM, Mellie


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