October 16, 2021

Homer firefighter dies while training

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Homer Fire Station on South Main Street in Homer in this Cortland Standard file Photo

An autopsy will be performed on a Homer volunteer firefighter, a new recruit, who died Saturday during a training exercise, said Chief Mahlon Irish. Services are pending.

Robert Bush, 49, of 16 Hannum Ave., who was three months into working for the department, was pronounced dead Saturday morning at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center. Irish said Bush and several others were practicing extricating a victim from a vehicle when Bush told the group his bronchitis, an inflammation of the airways, was acting up and that he was not feeling well. Bush was sitting and taking a break on one of the fire engines as the rest of the group continued the exercise, while keeping an eye on him.

Bush soon collapsed. The firefighters immediately provided medical assistance and called for an ambulance, Irish said in a statement on the department’s Facebook page. Bush was pronounced dead 45 minutes after the ambulance was called. Irish said an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death and then funeral services will be scheduled.

“This was one of the toughest days not only for me but the members who first-handedly had to take care of the situation,” Irish said in the statement. “I cannot express how proud I am of our members who initiated treatment. This is the worst-case scenario in my mind when we have to render aid to one of our own.”