NEWS STORY (Circulation Over 100,000)
FIRST PLACE: “Heat: A Firefighter’s Story”
“There were those moments, in bed in the middle of the night, when a vision from an incident on the job from years before might creep into Croonen’s consciousness, and he’d wake up, the muscles in his stomach constricting, a band of pressure wrapped around his head.”
“Heat: A Fire Fighter’s Story” ran as a daily series in The Hamilton Spectator from February 26 to March 26, 2004. This story provided a rare glimpse into the world of fire fighters through the life and career of Captain Bob Shaw. Shaw died from occupational disease obtained while fighting the Plastimet Fire, a warehouse fire that burned PVC plastic for four days in 1997.
This story delves into the lives of many fire fighters like Bob Shaw, both on the job and at home, dealing with the tragedies that come with their career: illness, death and the memories they would rather forget.
The Hamilton Spectator
SECOND PLACE: “The Valiant Men”
“And when it was all over, 25 sons and daughters were left fatherless. Eight women were widowed, one of them pregnant with a son who would never meet his father.”
This article is a touching dedication to 10 fire fighters who died in a chemical explosion 50 years ago. The reporter went to great lengths to research the tragedy, exposing the raw emotions and suffering of those who experienced this tragic event. Fire fighters entered the building with no one inside and were soon aware of intense toxic smells. Within minutes a 4,000-gallon tank in the yard of the building exploded, throwing 10 fire fighters against a brick wall. The tank contained poison gas that seriously injured 23 other fire fighters. The author exposes the unforgettable sacrifices of these brave individuals and the effects on the families of the victims. The wives and children, now 50 years older, recall the day of the explosion with painful memories.
Philadelphia Daily News
HONORABLE MENTION: “Police, Fire Departments See Shortages Across USA”
This article was written to generate public awareness of the shortage of first responders in charge of protecting their communities. The author investigates understaffed fire stations across the United States, making it perfectly clear that these factors are directly related to death tolls in fires. The article is supported with credible statistics concerning recent developments in fire protection, including the importance of the SAFER Act. It’s a strong argument against cutting funding for fire fighters.