Investigation ongoing after incident
MONTOUR FALLS--Following the death of a 21-year-old man who suffered a medical emergency during firefighter training, New York Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R,C,I-Greece) recently sent a letter to Attorney General Letitia James to request her office investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
According to the City of Watertown Fire Department Chief Matthew Timerman in a written news release, "The Watertown Fire Department is saddened to announce the line of duty death of 21-year-old firefighter Peyton Morse, Badge No. 94. on March 12, 2021. On March 3, 2021 firefighter Morse was participating in the recruit firefighter training program at the New York State Fire Academy at Montour Falls when he suffered a medical emergency. Firefighter Morse was rushed to a local hospital where he regained a heartbeat and was life-flighted to Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, Sayre, PA. Firefighter Morse remained in the ICU fighting for his life with his wife and family beside him. The families, Watertown, Shaker Road-Loudonville, and LaFargeville Fire Departments wish to thank everyone for the prayers and numerous displays of support. Peyton's entire life was dedicated to helping people and he would want all of us to continue his mission in life."
Assemblyman Jensen described the exercise at the academy as "mask confidence" training.
"With this situation and others from over the past two years, it is critical that the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Office of Fire Prevention and Control closely examine all practices of the State Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls to ensure that it is properly training the state's firefighters, while not putting the health and safety of these men and women at an elevated level of risk," said Jensen.
When contacted by email, Chet Lasell assistant director of communications for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services said, "The New York State Academy of Fire Science puts the safety and security of its recruits above all else and as part of that effort, staff continually reviews all training procedures and activities to ensure recruit safety. It is our policy to notify law enforcement anytime a situation such as this occurs and we continue to cooperate with the State Police on any and all parts of their investigation."
The state police office was called multiple times for a comment on the matter.
"I am saddened at the passing of firefighter Peyton Morse of the Watertown Fire Department," said State Fire Administrator Francis Nerney. "On behalf of the men and women of the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, I express our deepest condolences. Our thoughts remain with his family, friends, and the members of the Watertown Fire Department."
While the REVIEW&EXPRESS sought additional information regarding the incident at the fire academy, specific details about the training and investigation were unanswered.