Neal Tarkington

Neal  Tarkington

Neal was born March 23‚ 1965 in Jacksonville‚ Florida.

He began his career of more than 20 years as a firefighter at Jacksonville International Airport where he was aircraft rescue trained. The remainder of his career was with Jacksonville Fire Rescue‚ at station #4. There he was an engineer on the ladder truck and a part of the Special Ops team‚ trained in hazardous materials and high angle rescue. He repelled from highest point of the Dames Point Bridge.

He truly loved his fire house family and his second home. He enjoyed giving tours of the station to school children and watching their faces light up as he told them about the fire trucks. He took great pride in preparing meals for the guys. When we would call and ask what he was doing he would answer ‘fighting fires and saving lives.’

Neal had a contagious laugh with a beautiful smile and big brown eyes. He never met a stranger‚ and was always willing to help anyone in need. His gentleness and compassion for others made him a great firefighter. Among his many hobbies‚ Neal liked reading‚ learning new things and working with his hands making‚ building or fixing things. He loved his big truck and fifth wheel and traveling in them.

He graduated from high school in Sevierville‚ Tennessee and he always loved the breathtaking views in the mountains and making annual trips to visit his brother and family that live there now.

Neal was a loving husband to Debbie‚ his wife of 19 years‚ a loving dad to Neal Joseph Tarkington‚ Mike (Katie) and Chris (Jessica) Payne and a proud grandpa to Ethan. He was a loving son to Eunice (Charles) Haspel and Otis (Aileen) Tarkington. He and his brother Bryan (Tina) shared a special bond along with his older brothers: Dennis (Carolyn)‚ Robert (Gail) and Billy (Kathy) Tarkington and his loving nephews and nieces. His brother Robert‚ brother-in-law and nephew are also firefighters. Neal loved spending time with his grandparents‚ aunts‚ uncles and cousins‚ showing us all what a great cook he was‚ telling jokes and just having fun.

Neal was 43 years young when he went to Heaven on October 11‚ 2008 from a heart attack. Our time with him was far too short‚ but he taught us so much and left us with so many wonderful memories. We are truly blessed with having him in our lives. He showed everyone ‘that it is not the years in your life‚ but the life in your years’ and for that we will always be grateful to him. He left such a void in our lives and will be ‘FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS.’

Rafael Vazquez

There is no profile listed for this fallen firefighter.

Michael B. Douthitt

Michael B. Douthitt

Michael Brian Douthitt was born in Akron‚ Ohio‚ to Clinton and Maxine (Weiss) Douthitt on July 21‚ 1958. He grew up in Pompano Beach‚ Florida and graduated from Coconut Creek High School. From there‚ he served his country honorably as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne out of Ft. Bragg‚ North Carolina. He became an EMT while in the military‚ and that began his love of emergency medicine.

After leaving the Army he became a paramedic and was hired by Broward EMS on February 6‚ 1984. After nearly ten years‚ Broward County EMS merged with Broward County Fire Rescue‚ and Mike was in the first group of 12 paramedics to become a certified firefighter. Mike was 48 years old when he died on July 13‚ 2007‚ of complications from a heart attack that he suffered while fighting a structure fire in the early morning hours of July 2nd. At the time of his death‚ he was a driver/engineer assigned to Squirt 17 and had worked 23 years and 4 months on the job. He was 18 months away from retirement.

Throughout Mike’s life‚ he had a love of sports that was unequaled. His first baseball love was the Cleveland Indians‚ until the Marlins came to town. Mike believed in supporting the home teams‚ and support them he did! His love of his precious Dolphins‚ Hurricanes‚ Marlins‚ Panthers‚ and Heat was unrequited. He had season tickets to the Miami Dolphins since 1982 and NEVER missed a home game. He even arranged to be off work on away games so he could watch the game on TV and not have to worry about getting a call and missing part of the game. He also had a Hurricanes season ticket and a Marlins season ticket. He traveled to at least one Dolphins and Canes game a year and often times to an away Marlins game as well. His house is a living tribute to these teams with pictures‚ rugs‚ statues‚ wall hangings‚ etc.

Mike had one daughter‚ Heather Michelle‚ from a previous marriage. In 1987‚ he married Ruth (Hambel)‚ and they have two children. Their daughter‚ Shelby Lynn‚ was born in 1991‚ and their son‚ Andrew Michael‚ was born in 1993. Mike was a devoted father who loved his children more than life itself. Mike and Ruth had just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary on March 28‚ four months prior to his passing. Mike also left behind some four-legged ‘kids.’ Mike’s big heart extended to homeless animals as well‚ and Rexen‚ Bailey‚ Nellie‚ and Willy Wonka also felt the loss of their ‘Daddy.’

Mike was a true friend to everyone‚ and he will never be forgotten.

Thomas James Santner

Thomas James Santner

Chief Thomas J. Ryan once described Tom ‘as a good friend‚ fellow firefighter‚ teacher and an exceptional Chief Officer’ and this description was one many agreed with throughout his lifetime and even remember him now as such. Tom was a real go-getter who wanted the best for his firefighters and his community. He studied his community and found the things that were needed and made it happen. Tom was a believer in continuing education for himself‚ his firefighters and his family. He was enrolled in the United States Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and was very active professionally with the International Association of Fire Chiefs: Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs; Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association; Florida Fire Marshals’; Inspectors’ Association‚ Florida Executive Fire Officer Association and chairman for the Okaloosa Fire-Rescue Organization.

When asked about his professional career and what he was most proud of he wrote:

Survival‚ that despite what storms and set backs‚ that I have reached a place in my career that many people said that I would not‚ nor could not achieve. I’m respected by my employees as a leader and have protected my community for more that twenty five years as my family has for more than a century. My pride is greatest each time I see my son climb on one of my apparatus’ to do the same as the past 5 generations before him. Pride is in tradition. Remembered as the Chief that everyone wanted to work for because of the encouragement and opportunities that I gave to my people and for them to look to the examples that I set and strive to set those same examples for the people that will work for them one day. For always looking to the future in the Fire Service and always working toward the future that I never settled for anything less than the best for or from my people and that I always worked to provide the best for our communities.

Tom always made sure that whoever asked would receive help while he was Chief. Be it lending his own son’s car seat to a family in need of one after theirs burned in a fire‚ to making sure his firefighters received food and drinks during a long-lasting fire. The best to describe Tom is through the poem his daughter wrote him for Father’s day and changed for his Funeral.

Firefighter Dad
By Tiffany Renee Santner

Helping others is what you do
Risking your life to save another’s‚
Protecting those in danger‚
Of meeting a fiery fate.
When your work called you to duty‚
You went without a second thought‚
You were one of the ones to give‚
A young child‚
A future.
A mother‚
Her happy smiles and tears.
A senior‚
A little more time.
A teen who has wronged‚
A second chance.
Above all else‚
You make your children proud‚
Because we know that no matter what‚
You will live in our hearts‚
teaching us what is right.
No matter what happens‚
For this day forth‚
We want to thank you‚
For all you have done and given us.
So we thank you‚
And wish from the bottom of our hearts‚
That we always make you proud.
We will forever miss you.

Johnny Bajusz

There is no profile listed for this fallen firefighter.

Paul T. Reynolds Sr.

Paul T. Reynolds Sr.

Submitted by his Wife

Paul T. Reynolds‚ Sr.
Estero Fire Rescue – Florida
Classification: Career
Rank: Firefighter
Date of Death: February 27‚ 2007
Age: 41

Paul’s fire service career began at the age of 17‚ as a volunteer for the Estero Fire Service‚ in Estero‚ Fl. He had a passion for the fire service‚ and his ultimate goal was to one day become hired as a full-time paid firefighter. At the age of 22‚ that dream became reality; working for the same department‚ which he had volunteered for several years.

As is the case for many firefighters‚ firefighting and rescue was his passion. It was in his blood. He was one of the ‘old school’ firefighters in that he believed in brotherhood and all for one and one for all. A cause he tried to instill in all the ‘rookies’ as they began their career in the fire service.

Known to many on his department as ‘Pauly’‚ he was also called ‘Rain Man’ by a few in the department due to his natural knack for numbers. He was a caring‚ respected‚ straight shooter. At times to his detriment‚ he called it as he saw it and never tried to act or become anyone other than his true self for social or professional advancement.

Over the course of his career‚ he obtained many awards‚ and numerous course certifications. If there was a class that could better his service to the department or community‚ he acted on and completed the training. Paul was always the one to help a neighbor‚ friend or stranger in need. You could count on him whenever or wherever there was a need. He was the true core of what the public expects from their local firefighters. Yes‚ he also loved the home baked cookies‚ cakes and pies brought in from the citizens of the community to thank him for the help he and the other firefighters may have given on any day.

However‚ the biggest impact Paul had was on his family and friends. He was an honorable and respectful son‚ brother‚ uncle‚ cousin; the list goes on and on. His mom and dad were always very proud of the man he had become‚ no doubt about that.

As the wife of Paul‚ I can say that I was so very fortunate to have had almost 16 years with my husband. While those years were cut short‚ I am grateful for the time that I had with him. He was a loving husband‚ and we had 3 wonderful children together; Samantha‚ 13‚ Paul‚ Jr.‚ 12 and Erin‚ 8. He was the absolute best dad they could have had‚ hands down. Not just a father‚ but a true daddy‚ who always made the time to spend quality time with our kids.

On February 27‚ 2007‚ I lost my husband‚ best friend and confidant‚ Estero Fire Department lost one it’s most loyal‚ knowledgeable and hardworking firefighters and the community lost a friend. However‚ most saddening is that his kids lost their daddy‚ best friend and teacher. He was and always will be their HERO!!!!

Jeremy Chris Adams

Jeremy Chris Adams

Submitted by his Niece

Jeremy ‘Chris’ Adams
Springfield Fire Department – Florida
Classification: Career
Rank: Fire Chief
Date of Death: January 16‚ 2007
Age: 40

Springfield Fire Chief Chris Adams‚ 40‚ of Springfield‚ Fla.‚ died unexpectedly Tuesday‚ Jan. 16‚ 2007‚ in a local hospital. Chris Adams was born in Panama City‚ Fla.‚ on March 17‚ 1966‚ to William and Doris Adams. Chris’ father was a firefighter and Chris followed in his father’s footsteps. He began as a volunteer at the Springfield Fire Department‚ until he received his certification and began serving the city full-time and serving the community in which he lived was exactly what Chris did. He worked his way through the ranks to Captain and eventually‚ in 2004‚ was selected by the mayor to be the Fire Chief.

Chris was a proven leader who worked diligently to upgrade every aspect of the department. He applied for and received grants to upgrade the equipment‚ vehicles and training of his firefighters. He worked with local‚ state and federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Defense to obtain training in the latest safety techniques. Chris created a team that worked together like a family. Every member of the fire department‚ police department and City Hall knew Chris and where he lived. Chris welcomed them into his home anytime and there never was a need to knock. Chris loved his job‚ his team and the community he served so well.

Chris Adams was a devoted husband to his wife of 21 years‚ Darline. They met in school and were married July 26‚ 1985. They have two daughters‚ Heather‚ 17‚ and Hollie‚ 13‚ who were the light of his life. Chris dedicated his life to providing the best of everything for Darline and the girls. He loved them more than anything else and was always there to take care of every little need. He was an example of how to provide for your family. Chris always was there to provide support for his mother‚ brothers and sister‚ nieces and nephews‚ ‘Bootman the Cat‚’ and every friend who asked. Chris was the guy everyone went to when they needed a favor. Chris provided many memories for his family and friends to remember him by.

If you knew Chris‚ you knew he had many interests. If Chris was not in uniform‚ he was wearing a Jeff Gordon or Jimmy Johnson T-shirt and hat. Chris loved to sit on his back porch or in the swimming pool and watch NASCAR races. Nobody loved NASCAR more. Chances are if you went to Wal-Mart‚ you would see Chris there since he went almost every day. Even when Chris took his family on vacation‚ they went to Wal-Mart. The place Chris loved to go more than anywhere else was Disney World. He loved to go to Mickey’s house and take Darline and the girls. Even if they wanted to go somewhere else on vacation … Chris still managed to talk them into Disney World.

Survivors include his wife‚ Darline Adams; two daughters‚ Heather and Hollie Adams‚ all of Callaway; his mother‚ Doris Adams of Springfield; two brothers‚ Will Adams of Panama City‚ Fla.‚ and Steven Lott of Louisiana; one sister‚ Sharon Merchant of Panama City; He was preceded in death by his father‚ William Jackson Adams. Chris will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

He touched so many people in the time God let us have him here on Earth. Chris was the kind of man we name streets and buildings after … he was truly a great American!

John Jacob ‘JJ’ Curry

John Jacob 'JJ' Curry

Submitted by his Wife

John Jacob Curry was born in DeLand on December 22‚ 1976‚ at West Volusia Memorial Hospital. He graduated from Taylor T. Dewitt Middle High School in Pierson in 1995. Curry pursued his goal of becoming a firefighter by receiving his emergency medical technician certification in March 2006 and completing his certificate of compliance in fire standards and training in September 2006.

Curry began his employment with Volusia County Fire Services as a firefighter/emergency medical technician on January 6‚ 2007 and was currently assigned to DeLeon Springs Station 41. He was accepted to the Volusia County Wildland Fire Response Team‚ the Firewalker’s on November 13‚ 2007. Curry passed away on November 27‚ 2007.

J.J. by Kristen Curry

Tonight two candles flicker on either side‚
I’m reminded of my friend.
A friend that had no enemy’s‚
no…not even one.
Everyone loved and respected my friend
and knew no others like him‚
A friend that always had open arms‚
and a shoulder to cry on.
He didn’t always know what to say‚
but what he did say came from the heart.

Tonight two candles flicker on either side‚
I’m reminded of my husband.
He had a warm smile and a gentle touch.
He lit two candles every night
to remind me of his love.
There’s not a night that goes by‚
I don’t hear the whispers‚ ‘I Love You’

Tonight two candles flicker on either side‚
I’m reminded of a father.
In a hospital room three years ago.
I could see a man‚ holding his newborn son.
As he stared into the baby’s eyes‚
I could see his world was standing still.
I knew he would be world’s greatest Dad‚
and he was …
He looked up and gave me a smile.
We knew we were blessed.

Tonight two candles flicker on either side‚
I glance to the left‚
to see a closet full of clothes.
I glance to the right‚
to see a book half read.
A pair of shorts lay at my feet‚
with a belt still intertwine.
Above‚ I see a wedding picture
with an unfinished story.
Next to me an empty space
like the one in my heart.

Tonight two candles flicker on either side‚
I’m reminded of my son‚ friends‚ and family.
The empty space will never be filled.
but a new space has been made and is beginning to fill. I can’t tell you all the people
I’ve met in the past few months‚
but I do know there are so many people
that love and care about my family.
I’m so grateful.

Thank you‚ from the bottom of our heart and God Bless.

Love‚
Kristen and Owen
Curry

Submitted by his Uncle

JJ was only in the fire service full time 10 months before his tragic accident. He was not in the fire service long enough.

JJ was interested in learning everything there is to learn about fire fighting. He would have moved up the ranks very fast as he absorbed information‚ learning like a sponge.

He is survived by his son of 3 1/2 years soon to be 4.

JJ always called and asked my advice when it came to fire fighting as well as letting me know where he going or what he was doing when it came to his profession. He loved his job and I was his mentor all the time until the time of his death.

I will miss our talks about fire fighting. I was looking forward to more of our talks when I retired and that is what I will miss the most about him‚ our talks.

Karl ‘Klif’ Kramer

Karl  'Klif' Kramer

Submitted by his mother

To have an impact on one life is remarkable – To touch many is a miracle! Klif did just that!

Karl ‘Klif’ Kramer‚ 22‚ died of heat stroke on May 28‚ 2005 after collapsing during a training run. At 6’4’‚ a gentle giant of a man‚ Klif was the friend that you could always count on. He was proud of becoming a member of the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department and being able to follow in his fathers footsteps. He used to spend hours with his Dad planning the next steps in his career and discussing the different options in firefighting. He was on the road to achieving a life long dream.

Klif lived life to the fullest. He loved playing sports but playing softball was his favorite. Especially when playing with his dad and cousins. He was a member of several church‚ fire department and city teams. When not playing ball he was playing cards or visiting friends. He just loved being with others. Klif had a sense of humor and a unique ability to know just when to use it. At Halloween he will always be remembered as ‘Shrek’ and how closely he resembled the character’s personality – not to mention the costume he made each year.

Klif was the son that any mother and father would be proud to have. He was idolized by his little brothers and loved by his friends. We were truly blessed to have a son like Klif and so very proud of all he accomplished in such a short time. Our world is a better place because of him and we miss him dearly.

Submitted by his Captain

Firefighter Kliff Kramer‚ IV was recently hired as a probationary firefighter with our department. He was very active with his church and youth group.

Frank J. ‘Frankie’ Kucera

Frank J. 'Frankie' Kucera

Submitted by his wife

Frank ‘Frankie’ Joseph Kucera‚ 42‚ Lieutenant‚ Seminole County Fire Department‚ passed away on May 27‚ 2005 when he suffered a heart attack after a day of training‚ which he always loved. He became part of the SCFD family on June 15‚ 1981 and during its history‚ Frank was the first firefighter to pass away in the line of duty.

Frankie’s 1st firefighting job started with the Longwood Fire Department in 1980 where he was a part-time firefighter. He was with them for about 10 months. Frankie also received his Law Enforcement certificate in 1983 where he was a reserve police officer for Longwood PD up until 1990 when he was promoted to Lieutenant for SCFD. Through out his years with SCFD he received many awards and certificates‚ he was always taking classes to continue his education and he was a member of the High Angle Rescue Team. He also accomplished many hours in flying lessons to become a pilot. In 2002‚ he was promoted to the SHOT team.

Frankie always lived life to its fullest and would recruit all of those around him to do the same through his exceptional leadership skills and more importantly‚ his sense of humor. He enjoyed spending time with Chyanne (stepdaughter) and wife going boating‚ camping‚ 4 wheeling‚ riding bikes‚ snow skiing‚ taking vacations‚ scuba diving and spending time with friends golfing‚ fishing‚ hunting and riding motorcycles.

His wife and stepdaughter are truly blessed to have had him in their lives‚ no matter how short the time. He was and will always be their hero.

Submitted by his parents

Frank J. Kucera was born in Naha‚ Okinawa in 1962‚ where his father was stationed in the United States Air Force. He grew up in Seminole County‚ Florida. Still a senior in High School‚ Frank attended the Seminole Community College-Seminole County Fire Training Academy. Upon Graduation in 1980 from Lake Brantley High School and Seminole County Fire Academy he was hired‚ first as a Reserve Motorcycle Patrol Officer with Longwood Police Department‚ then as a Firefighter for the City of Longwood Fire Department in Seminole County‚ Florida. In 1981 Frank transferred to the Seminole County Fire Department where in 1990 was promoted to Lieutenant‚ in 2002 Frank was promoted to the Departments Special Hazard and Operations Team. Frank was respected‚ admired and loved by his fellow firefighters for his dedication to the job‚ his wonderful sense of humor and the twinkle in his eyes.

Frank had a real zest for life‚ at the age of 22 he was diagnosed with Cancer and was very ill. With all the love and support of his family‚ friends and fellow firefighters he fought back and after a lengthy recovery returned to work and excelled in his job. His love for life was infectious. He loved his family‚ riding motorcycles‚ hunting‚ scuba diving‚ boating‚ fishing‚ skiing‚ and golf. He loved the outdoors‚ socializing and staying home watching movies with his friends.

Frank wanted to be a firefighter his whole life. As a little boy‚ he ran around his house wearing a red fireman’s helmet telling his mom and dad that he was going to be a fireman when he grew up. He really loved his job and would not have traded it for anything else in the world. He was a good son‚ a caring friend and a kind man who is terribly missed by those who loved him; they wouldn’t have traded him for anything else in the world. Although‚ Frank J. Kucera’s life was too short‚ he lived a very full one and he died doing the thing he loved most in the world‚ being a Firefighter.