Downstate Delaware firefighters mourn loss of 17 year old

A 17-year-old volunteer firefighter with the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department was killed in an accident while responding to a fire alarm.

Junior Firefighter Justin Townsend is the first firefighter killed in the line of duty in the 69-year history of the Dagsboro VFD.  Department spokesman Matthew Gajdos issued a statement expressing the department’s sense of loss.  “Words cannot begin to adequately portray the tremendous sorrow this small, tight-knit fire company and the community it serves is feeling in the wake of this loss,” Gajdos said.

Townsend was killed just after 5 p.m. on Thursday as he was driving on Pepper Road near Jay Patch Road.  He was responding to a fire in a wooded area on East Clogg Drive.  

Townsend’s father is also a member of the department.  “Justin and his father are part of our family dynamic.  We will support him and grieve with him in this time of need.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Gajdos says Townsend was due to be voted into the department’s senior membership next month after completing all state training to be an interior firefighter.  Townsend, who was in 11th grade at Sussex Tech High School, was an organ donor.  “His passion to help other has not been lost with his passing,” says Gajdos.  “Even in the shadow of death, he will continue to live on by serving others.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal