COLFAX FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA RELEASE
LONGTIME COLFAX FIRE CHIEF DIES FROM APPARENT HEART ATTACK WHILE FIGHTING A WILDFIRE
COLFAX—Longtime Colfax Fire Chief Jim Krouse, who had served as Colfax chief for 40 years and a volunteer in Colfax for 52 years, died from an apparent heart attack Saturday afternoon while responding to his fourth call of the day.
Krouse was responding around 3 pm to a wildfire on Green Hollow Road and was pulling hose at the fire scene when he collapsed.
Colfax ambulance quickly responded and emergency medical care was given to Krouse on the scene and immediately transported to Whitman Medical Center in Colfax. Asst Chief Craig Corbeill, who responded with the ambulance, said physicians worked on the former chief but they were not able to revive him.
Crews from around the Palouse, who were helping Colfax with the wildfire, included District 12, District 11, Steptoe, Albion, Palouse, Colfax city and rural departments managed to control the wildfire and extinguish the blaze.
Word quickly spread of Krouse’s passing and when the crews were finished they assembled at Whitman Medical Center and started the procession with the ambulance, that carried Krouse’s body, draped in an American flag, to the Bruning Funeral Home escorted by Whitman County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol.
Chief Michael Chapman met with his firefighters at the fire station, many of whom served with Krouse for a number of years, to help them debrief from the situation and to share stories about the former chief.
Chapman said his department was grateful for the compassionate and excellent work of the Whitcom emergency dispatchers during the fire, many of whom had taken radio calls from Krouse over the years.
Chapman said there will be a critical incident debriefing in the next 24-72 hours for those on the scene today and those who served with Krouse for some of those 52 years.
Corbeill said that “Krouse was like a kid in a candy store” when he was making his fourth run today, driving a water tender to the Green Hollow Road fire. Krouse who served as Colfax Chief from 1972 to 2010, followed his father, Earl, who was chief prior to Jim.
When the word got out to other fire districts of the passing of Krouse, Pullman fire responded with Asst Chief Ryan Scharnhorst and an ambulance to help Colfax on their calls.
Shortly after arriving, Pullman responded to one medic call in Colfax. Because there was a fatality with this wildfire, Pullman sent fire marshal Chris Wehrung and asst fire marshal Tony Nuttman to investigate the fire scene and to help determine the cause. At the time of this release, Nuttman, who is serving as the lead investigator, said the cause remains under investigation.
Arrangements for Chief Krouse are pending at the Bruning Funeral Home in Colfax.