Spencer Vann Griffin lost his life in the line of duty on January 6, 1970. While driving Engine No. 4 to an oil heater fire on Cokey Road, the fire engine struck a van operated by Carolina Overall Corporation, throwing Firefighter Griffin from the engine and killing him instantly. Firefighter Griffin was a four-year veteran of the Department.
Assistant Fire Chief Wayne B. Hawkins became the fourth member of the City of Rocky Mount Fire Department to give his life in the line of duty on June 11, 1977. A structure fire at Rocky Mount Mills had the Department working for two hours to extinguish a textile mill fire. Assistant Fire Chief Hawkins led firefighting forces throughout the incident. Later that evening, Chief Hawkins suffered a fatal heart attack.
Wiley T. May was the second firefighter to die in the line of duty while serving with the City of Rocky Mount Fire Department. On December 18, 1920, firefighter May was fatally injured while attempting to board a departing fire engine. His injuries were so severe that a blood transfusion was administered to try to save his life – one of the first attempts at a blood transfusion in the State of North Carolina. The real tragedy, however, is the fact that the alarm Firefighter May was responding to turned out to be a false alarm.
Henry Mitchel was the first firefighter to die in the line of duty for the City of Rocky Mount Fire Department. In 1906, Firefighter Mitchel was participating in a drill for an upcoming State Fireman’s competition to be held in Warrenton, N.C. when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was a member of the Department’s Hook and Ladder Company at the time.
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