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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Former Career Firefighter Suffers Line of Duty Death

A former career firefighter with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department who relocated to Connecticut 16 years ago lost his life with a fellow firefighter while battling a house fire in Bridgeport, CT. Steven Velazquez was hired as a firefighter by Prince George’s County in 1990 and was a member of Career Recruit School #23. He remained with PGFD for 3 years before moving to Connecticut and taking a job as a firefighter in Bridgeport. He spent the majority of his career in Prince George’s County at the Kentland Fire/EMS Station.

Lieutenant Steven Velazquez and Fire Fighter Michael Baik of the Bridgeport, Connecticut Fire Department lost their lives while battling a house fire on the afternoon of July 24th.

Chief Billy Goldfeder filed the following report on http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com/:

Lt. Steven Velazquez and Firefighter Michael Baik were found unconscious on the top floor of the house, following Mayday calls. They were found by the department's rapid intervention team, and were given immediate treatment at the scene. However, the Mayor said they were unable to revive the men and they were pronounced dead at the hospital.

At a press conference Saturday night, a somber and distraught Mayor Finch talked about the two, both family men with young children. Velazquez was Finch's neighbor and the mayor recalled pinning his badge on him when he was promoted to lieutenant in February. Baik, he said, was a rookie with 2 years on the job.

The last time the department lost a member was in 1999, when FF Walter Flyntz died in the Line of Duty at a fire on Fairfield Avenue.

The initial report of the fire at the multi-family wood structure was called in to officials at 1553 hours.

Deputy Fire Chief Bob Petrucelli said he arrived on the scene 15 minutes into the job and found heavy smoke coming from the second and third floors.

"Firefighters were making progress on the fire," Finch said, "knocking down the flames."

He said Velazquez and Baik were the furthest inside the house, doing search and rescue and ventilating the house.

There's no immediate word on what caused the fire and Finch said the State Fire Marshal's office will be investigating not only the cause of the blaze, but are also looking at the equipment used by the deceased firefighters. Details from various sources.

After moving to Connecticut Steve Velazquez maintained close friendships with numerous firefighters here in Prince George’s County. He was a constant figure at the annual MDA Softball Tournament sponsored by the Prince George’s County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association IAFF Local 1619 held each year in September.

IAFF Local 1619 will provide additional information and service details as soon as they become available and will be organizing arrangements for members who wish to attend the memorial service.

The members of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department offer our sincerest condolences to the family of the Steven Velazquez and Michael Baik and to the Bridgeport, CT Fire Department.

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