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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY)– A New Hanover County fire captain has died from an apparent heart attack while participating in a training exercise.

Shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, New Hanover County Fire Rescue Captain David Heath, a 10-year veteran, collapsed while participating in a training exercise. Despite an exhaustive effort by colleagues who immediately performed CPR, applied a defibrillator and instituted advanced life support measures, Heath died. He was 48.

Heath was assigned to the Professional Development Division, and worked out of Station 17 at 5901 Murrayville Road.

Formal arrangements are still pending.

Comment on this Story

  • Heri

    I only a shushi guy in Japanese restaurant and I never know you passed away till someone came told me and she ordered the same that you usually did. It really choked me up. you are one of the best person I ever met. Rest in peace.

  • Culture

    Fire Service in SE NC = Lip service carries more weight than job performance.

    It is funny to hear everyone’s true feelings of Bean or the feelings of others repeated. Yet, I remember when everyone always wanted to be part of his crew – cause he had a reputation for having fun, teaching you something new and most importantly because it was his belief that you were his first responsibility.

    Others may preach the same, but they don’t live it. The administration felt he was a risk because they were intimidated by his followers loyalty. Yet, they were the crew you wanted to show up to your parents house. They found a way to get rid of everyone and you think they’re something special.

    Even after your own chief – the Commander didn’t say anything – you continued to make excuses and validate that he is a leader…

    The service as a whole has changed drastically. The entire world has. Culture is everything. However, the majority here knows it less. Because it isn’t required. Not enough fires happen. Not enough drastic and dangerous situations occur for professionals to return to the basics and understanding that showering together in the morning with a cup of coffee and conversation makes a difference.

    In fact, administrators are bored and they encountered even less of that OJT I am referring to. Therefore, they worry about customer service survey cards, receiving grants to boost special ops or accreditation and the rest of you buy into it.

    BLIND LEADING THE BLIND boys & girls..

    Famous saying: “You know what you know, but that’s all you know”!!!

  • NHCFR Firefighter

    What if I’m a woman? I won’t leave anymore comments…

  • Jason B.

    First…. I would like to say that I respect and thank alot of the both of you.

    Steve…You really don’t know Bean. I’ve known Bean before our department was ever established. He was one of my Lieutenants. This man was one of NHCFR best when it came to the job. One of the best pump operators (not to put anyone down)around. One of the best dispatchers we evr had. Would do anything he can for his friends. One of the best guys I know. I would fight any fire with him any day. He worked for us in the not so best days. We are still a young department and we have had and continue to have our growing pains. We have come a long way from where we started. He has a right to voice his opinion.

    Bean…..Steve is a really good guy who is trying to look out for his fellow firefighters. He might not have as much time in as some but he will get there. I do agree that this might not have been the best area to voice your opinion but I understand. I was surprised that no one from us got up and said anything. I was hard for our upper staff to deal with this.

    Whoever NHCFR is…..be a man and put a name if your going to jump in this. If not….don’t say anything.

    Now I know I’m not the best about the “Botherhood”. I didn’t know David outside of the fire service. I stopped hanging out with firefighters along time ago for my personal reasons. I do know he was one of my training Capts. and I have dealt with him in many differents ways throughout the job. I know that if I needed anything (whether work or personal)he would’ve been there. He was a great man, great training Capt., and great firefighter. He will be missed. I wished you 2 would’ve met under different circumstances, y’all might have liked each other.

  • NHCFR firefighter

    Steve Hunt = classiest person NHCFR ever produced
    Butterbean = laziest person NHCFR ever released.
    That’s the real legacy.

  • Steve

    I set out to defend my Brothers and Sisters from the slanderous words of a “friend”. Though very tempting to continue to insult you, I’ll just sign off with a retort of my own. You have proven for me that you are an ignorant, angry person who lacks the CLASS to voice his complaints in the right place. My “2 seconds” in the fire service have proven that the right person can understand a sense honor and duty with little time in, where the wrong person (you) couldn’t grasp the thought in a million years. I’m sure your “legacy” as you call it looks real shinny and awesome in your eyes. Thats fine I’ll leave that to your interpretation. As far as my fellow staff here at NHCFR, as you put it, “not some but all” we will be just fine knowing that the rants of the ignorant (that’s you again) simply don’t matter. If I did have a few more “seconds” in the service I may have been wise enough to just let you rant to your hearts content. Since I only have “2 seconds” in, my love for the range of staff here is easy to see. I’ll accept the fault of not allowing myself to sit by while some ass hole talks bad about my friends and co workers. Guilty. Thanks for the plug by the way. A1 Tree Service is doing well. I’m still a tree climber.

    Tree Climber Steve

  • Butterbean

    Dave and I were colleagues. Fought a fair amount of fire together too. Rushing Drive. The Beach Road. Crosswinds. Myrtle Grove Road a few times. The Cape. Sierra Drive. List goes on.

    I think that entitles me to say a few parting words. Even if the truth hurts.

    Did you know Dave?

  • Butterbean

    Steve Hunt…

    Since you are not the Steve I thought you were because that Steve reached out to me. I can respect that.

    I will only retort with this…

    My original statement and sentiments stand. I know you have been a tree climber before your tenure with the fire department and have only been on the job about 2 years, all with New Hanover County. So, that is about 2 seconds in the grand design of things, eh?

    It is painfully obvious, with your lack of experience, you really can’t talk intelligently on the importance of the commanding officer’s words for one his own. Since the fire service prides its self on being paramilitary in organization and delivery do you know how many commanding officers speak on behalf of one of their own when they fall?

    Easy answer. All of them.

    Since you don’t know me, nor have ever served with me, you really can’t talk intelligently about me or my career with New Hanover County local government. They gave me the option to return. I chose to not take it. But this isn’t about me and my bet is Dave’s BMI really didn’t factor into his dying. Lucky for him.

    If you want friends, go to church. Here is a bit of “class” about your commanding officers. You know why none of New Hanover County Fire Services firemen carried out the Good Captain? Easy answer. Your chief won’t spend the money to buy the appropriate uniforms for his personnel because he feels tradition impedes progress. I guess WFD don’t mind. They put out your fires and provide an honor guard. Guess the tax payers don’t mind the duplication of services either.

    Oh yeah, the only reason I was solid at being a dispatcher, is because of the skill set and experience I gained on the job prior to being kicked out.

    Here’s a tip for you when you drive the tanker, I am sorry, water tender over to porters neck for the next parking lot job….Gas on the right, brake on the left, steering wheel in between.

    “Brotherhood” isn’t status on Facebook.

  • Roscoe

    The fact that you chose this stage and certainly this situation to make some kind of point eliminates any chance you have of making a point. Ranting on the article of a fallen firefighter, that’s classy. There is a time and place for everything, your timing and placement is wrong on so many levels. Hopefully you’re a politician now, if not, you should consider it, given the lack of shame you possess.

  • Steve

    Must be tough. I have never borrowed a Battalion Chief’s tool. Nor have I had to borrow anyone’s tool. Unlike you I am prepared for my job. As an employee who is prepared and willing to do what it takes I still have a job. I never knew any clowns in the fire service. I now can see that you are the only clown I know of that existed in this department. That was kind of you to point that out. Misguided? You sir fit that bill. Feel free to add that to the short list of things you fit in to. I will be happy to keep this conversation going with you but lets not pretend it has anything to do with the Good Captain. I am sorry that you don’t have a healthy grieving process. As far as your questions about our chiefs speaking. They have CLASS, unlike you and chose to speak at the appropriate times. I’ll address your question of pallbearers…. If you had an ounce of respect (I know, you don’t) you would have attended the funeral and watched the Firemen send David from the top of our Engine. The honor guard who were so filled with respect offered to carry him that we could mourn. Your ignorance is appalling. I am started to be angry with you but then I remember you are just a sad, angry, individual who happens to be a really good dispatcher. I appreciate your work as a dispatcher. I understand you have moved on from that job and I wish you well. However, If you continue to post lies about my department I will continue to correct them and insult you in return. Oh, one more thing I never moved any cops or wives or firemen or anyone into my home but I’m sure my brothers and sisters know they would be welcome in a time of need. Like I said. You are full of lies and hate. So sad.

  • Robert Austin Allison

    To the family, friends and extended family – sorry for your loss. Here is a poem I wrote – hope this helps in this difficult time of sorrow, grief and remembrance.


    Thanks for your service.

  • John

    I think its good you bring this information to light. People always seem to rally around and cry “the brotherhood” when something happens and then leave you out to dry any other time. Thanks for commenting and something that probably goes on behind the scenes.

  • Butterbean

    Hi Steve. Thanks for your enthralling analysis of my problems.

    Now I will point out a few of yours and your department’s problems.

    How many other “brother” firemen or cops ex girlfriends and wives have you moved into your place? Takes a “brother” to break the code.

    How often do you have to borrow the battalion chiefs tools because you forgot yours back on the rig? Yeah, I am sure someone will let you borrow their tools because of your ineptness.

    How many nights did you really dog out the “paid” guys while riding the insane clown posse truck with all the other clowns? Do I even need to go there?

    How many fire chiefs or command staff officers for New Hanover County Fire Services spoke on behalf of one of their own? Easy answer. None of them.

    How many of New Hanover County Fire Services brothers were pall bears for one of their own? You’d think this would be a no brain answer but I will lay it out for you to play it out. Dave was so much a brother to you, that not one single firemen from New Hanover County Fire Services felt compelled enough to carry out one of their own.

    You misguided interptation of the New Hanover County Fire Services being the greatest ever is exactly that. Misguided. Had you worked anywhere else, like me, or Reggie or Scuba Steve, you’d of known that.

    Oh yeah, one last thing. You’re welcome. You are welcome,because of my legacy is why you have a job today. Glad the service for Dave was nice. Heard his real brother gave a nice eulogy.

  • Steve

    Sorry about Dave? I don’t buy it for a second. This was simply a forum for you to air your hurt feelings. You are easy to figure out. Still blaming others for your lack of self control. You lash out at my Fire Department and disgrace my Captains memory with your ignorant rants that don’t even make since. Captain Heath is so much more of a Man than you. You don’t even deserve the right to compare yourself him. You have no idea the relationships that David had with these guys. Of course you said it yourself that you only knew him professionally. Then why would you threaten my administration to “do it right”? Your argument bleeds of ignorance. You communicated threats which confirms your ignorance. You couldn’t make it as a fireman and you are mad at New Hanover County Fire for letting you go. There, was that so hard to say? Don’t complicate it by making it about The Good Captain who exhibited everything that is good about a fire officer . Captain Heaths honor is too Bold and our Department is too Grand to even give you a second look. Its out of the kindness of my heart that I share with you how ignorant you are that maybe you can work on it. I truly hope you wake up and realize that your problems are just that, Your problems. New Hanover County Fire Rescue is doing a great job at honoring our fallen. Our community mourns with us. Its only you that seems to have a problem. Does that tell you something? It should. Take back your threats and pray for forgiveness. New Hanover County Fire Rescue is one of the finest departments full of intelligent, honorable, and talented men and women. We will mourn our loss anyway we see fit. Even changing our facebook pictures.


  • NHCFR firefighter

    Thank you Steve for speaking for all of us at NHCFR.

  • ButterBean

    Real sorry to hear about Dave. He and I were colleagues, professionally, till I went my on my way.

    I do, however, take issue with the flying of false colors of empathy and sympathy that is being displayed by his current colleagues.

    You see, Dave was human like most of us and went through some pretty tough trials and tribulations, personally. ALL, not some, but ALL his so called “brothers” distance or separated themselves from Dave when he probably needed them most. I know first hand of those effects because the same thing happened to me a few years before Dave.

    Fortunately for Dave and I, we came out intact without the help of the so called “brotherhood” and it is pretty safe to say that Dave was probably closer to the rookie class he was teaching than he was of any of his esteemed peers or colleagues.

    So I say shame on you New Hanover County Fire Services. Shame on you Chief Hall. Shame on you Chief Davis. Shame on you Mac, Jen, Sunni, Ben or anyone else that changed their freaking facebook status. You guys are working the greatest job in the world and have NO IDEA the privilege you have been given to be in that job. Dave understood what it meant to be a fireman and thank the Gods he died doing what he loved because he did understand. Everyone with crying eyes saying poor him, Damn that. I say poor you. Poor you for not understanding what it means to be a fireman or a “brother.”

    There is a silver lining from Dave’s untimely passing. Dave was two classes from graduating from Mount Olive College and will have his bachelor’s degree conferred and given to his family at his funeral services on Saturday.

    I will part with a quote from former Fire Chief Edward Crocker of the FDNY…

    “Firemen are going to get killed. When they join the department they face that fact. When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work. They were not thinking of getting killed when they went where death lurked. They went there to put the fire out, and got killed. Firefighters do not regard themselves as heroes because they do what the business requires.”

  • Jane Boney

    I just saw this on Facebook:

    Wilmington Service will be held at Port City Community Church, 250 Vision Drive, Wilmington, N.C. 28403; 1:00 p;.m., Sat., October 19
    Concord Service will be held at First Assembly
    154 warren C. Coleman Blvd.
    Concord, N.C. 28027
    3:00 P.m. ,, Oct. 20th, Sunday

  • Rémi Drouin

    Our prayers from Québec FD are for the family. Good bless you brother.

  • GuestToday

    Does anyone have information regarding the funeral arrangements?

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