REISTERSTOWN, Md. (WJZ) — There’s new information about a young volunteer firefighter who died in a Reisterstown house fire one year to the date. Gene Kirchner was killed trying to rescue a man from the flames.
WJZ has obtained the Baltimore County Fire Department’s report from that night.
Monique Griego has more on what it says and why Kirchner’s family still has questions.
Kirchner had been volunteering with the department for nine years and had run more than 3,000 calls. He was very experienced. That’s why his family feels his death just doesn’t make sense.
For Paulette Ohana, the pain of losing her son is still very raw.
“I’m trying, it’s just the missing. It’s very hard,” she said.
On April 24 of last year, 25-year-old Gene Kirchner — a Reisterstown volunteer firefighter — was critically injured while trying to save a man from a burning home. Kirchner — who had a twin brother who’s also a firefighter — later died from thermal wounds and smoke inhalation.
“Here my son was suffocating and I couldn’t even help him. I was not there. That’s hard for me,” Ohana said.
One year after the fire, the Baltimore County Fire Department released its death investigation report. Kirchner’s equipment was found to be in working order. But the document reveals he was not wearing his face piece, helmet or hood when found unconscious and that his air tank was turned off.
For those who knew Kirchner as an experienced, well-trained firefighter, those details only added to the mystery.
“The only person that’s going to be able to tell us 100 percent what happened unfortunately laid his life down for someone else in the community,” said Chief Bob Murray, Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company.
Murray understands he may never know exactly what happened, but believes the 14 recommendations outlined in the report could save lives.
“As a company what can we do different, admin, training equipment, lessons learned,” he said.
Ohana wants answers, but says knowing why will only give her a small sense of closure.
In addition to the county’s report, the family is also waiting for the results of a federal investigation.
If you’d like to see the full report, click here.
The report will now be reviewed by the fire chief before any recommendations are put into action.
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