Firefighters shaken by colleague's suicide; family says suffered from PTSD

IRC Battalion Chief was 27-year veteran

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. - Flags are at half staff at all 12 firehouses in Indian River County to mark the loss of Battalion Chief David Dangerfield.  The 27-year veteran committed suicide over the weekend.

“And nobody knew how bad he was suffering," said Bruce Dangerfield, David's father.

Bruce Dangerfield said his son had PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“He was seeing a doctor, for a year and a half, about 3 days a week.”

Just before his death, Chief Dangerfield posted on Facebook about the reality of PTSD for firefighters, writing "PTSD for firefighters is real.  If your love one is experiencing signs get them help quickly.  Twenty-seven years of deaths and babies dying in your hands is a memory that you will never get rid off (sic).  It haunted me daily until now.  My love to my crews.  Be safe, take care.  I love you all."

John O’Connor with IAFF Local 2201 says they’re trying to change the mindset so people pay more attention to issues like this, and sufferers don’t hide from it.

“We’re trying to create awareness to say ‘Hey look if you’re having a problem please seek assistance or call one of us so we can get you someone to talk to.’” said O'Connor.

A 2015 study from Florida State University showed nearly half of all firefighters had thought about suicide, 19 percent had made plans to commit suicide and 15 percent had attempted it.

Much of David Dangerfield’s life was about serving others.  The battalion chief was an instructor at the IRSC Fire Academy and also trained rescue dive teams locally and around the country.

Dangerfield’s father said his son was always respectful, even helping him clean up his yard last week from Hurricane Matthew.

“We’re just heartbroken, we just can’t get over it you know.” said Bruce Dangerfield.

Funeral services will be held this Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Community Church on 23rd Street in Vero Beach. 

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