Line of duty: 50 years later, firefighter’s death still painful – News – The Repository

Everett “Joe” Stevens died May 20, 1967, after fighting a fire at Tyson Bearing Co.

Editor’s note: Local emergency responders put their lives on the line every day. The risk comes with the job. On this 50th anniversary of the Tyson Bearing Co. fire, we remember Massillon firefighter Joe Stevens, who died shortly after fighting that fire.

MASSILLON  On the morning of May 20, 1967, an automatic alarm sounded at the Massillon Fire Station. 

Maintenance crews were performing routine repairs on a furnace when oil used for cooling somehow ignited in the heat treat division of Tyson Bearing Co.

It was just after 9 a.m. when Everett “Joe” Stevens and other city firefighters responded to the blaze at 1339 Duncan St. SW. 

Firefighters worked to get the fire contained.

After expending his oxygen tank, Stevens, a 23-year veteran, exited the plant, removed his face mask and collapsed into the arms of a fellow firefighter. 

Less than hour after responding to the fire, Stevens was dead. Blood flow to his coronary artery was obstructed, Stark County Coroner Dr. G.S. Shaheen ruled. The condition — a coronary occlusion — can sometimes lead to a heart attack. 

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary since Stevens’ line-of-duty death — one of seven recognized by Massillon firefighters and the city each year.

Looking back

“It was not a big conflagration but a fire that produced heavy smoke that made it difficult to find the seat of the flame,” read an editorial in the Evening Independent on May 24 that year.

In addition to the crew that initially responded to the call, Chief Don Simon had sent an extra brigade, bringing the total number of firefighters at the scene to 18.

The newspaper reported that when Stevens exited the building he had planned to raise the ladder of the aerial truck to reach the roof. He never accomplished the task. 

Stevens went down, falling into the arms of firefighter Frank Urwin, who…

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