City wants private investigation into death of New York firefighter

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City officials want their own investigation into the death of a New York firefighter who died during a training exercise at the state fire academy last month.

Watertown firefighter rookie Peyton Morse, 21, was participating in a drill involving breathing equipment March 3 at the New York State Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls when he suffered a medical condition. He was taken to a hospital in Pennsylvania and remained in an intensive care unit before dying on March 12.


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The Bradford County Coroner in Pennsylvania was unable to determine the cause of death following an autopsy. However, the results of pathology, toxicology and microscopy tests would not be available for a few weeks, and these could shed light on the cause of death.

But Watertown officials want a private investigation into Morse’s death, reports the Watertown Daily News. Fire Chief Matthew Timerman also called for a full investigation. If that investigation finds the fire academy at fault, it could lead to a claim against the state training center.

“We want to know what happened and what caused it,” City Manager Kenneth A. Mix told the Daily News.

During the March 3 incident at the academy, Morse became unresponsive during a mask confidence exercise with SCBA equipment inside a long plywood tunnel with duct tape covering the mask. His equipment alarms went off and he was found with no oxygen in his equipment and not breathing.

Ronald Morse, the firefighter’s grandfather, and Stan Morse, his great-uncle, picketed the fire academy demanding answers, according to the Daily News. Both men believe the academy instructors are responsible for Morse’s death.

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