Sadly, it looks like 12 of the 14 fatalities from the explosion at the chemical fertilizer plant in West, Texas, were either firefighters or EMTs. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has established a national fund to accept monetary donations to assist the survivors and coworkers of the fire and EMS personnel who died in the line of duty. For more information visit: http://firehero.org/news/2013/westtx_041913.html
Most of these firefighters were unpaid volunteers from five different fire departments. At least one was a Dallas firefighter who lived nearby and joined the response. This blast came one day after the anniversary of the largest industrial accident in US history. 66 years earlier, on April 16th, 1947, a fire that began aboard ships in a dockyard adjacent to an industrial complex killed hundreds when it exploded, including 26 Texas firefighters. That devastating Texas City fire forever changed firefighting response protocols for chemical fires. While the actual cause of the West, Texas fire is still being investigated, this is the largest loss of life in 66 years for the Texas fire service, and I am sure a loss profoundly felt by the entire Texas fire service and for firefighters everywhere. Our thoughts and hearts go out to all those impacted by this devastating explosion.