Tribute Paid to Fallen Philly Firefighter
We’re finding out more about Joyce Craig-Lewis, the Philadelphia firefighter who died Tuesday morning in a West Oak Lane fire and the department’s first woman to die in the line of duty.
KYW reports on a vigil held Tuesday night at Engine 64 in Northeast Philadelphia, her last posting:
“She continually was outstanding doing everything she could to make sure somebody was saved or property was saved and we miss her,” said Lieutenant Benny Hutchins.
Hutchins worked closely with Lewis over the past three years at Engine 64.
“She didn’t want to let gender get in the way of anything. She wanted to prove that point,” Hutchins said.
Fire officials say the 36-year-old mother of two entered a row home on the 1600 block of Middleton Street in West Oak Lane with a three person attack team.
They were trying to rescue an elderly victim and control the fire. The conditions worsened as they went to the basement. Her team was ordered out, but Lewis did not make it.
“We conducted first aid CPR on the scene and on route to the hospital. Upon arrival to the hospital she was pronounced,” Philadelphia Dire Department Communication Director, Derrick Sawyer.
The 36-year-old mother, who recently returned from maternity leave, spent 11 years fighting fires on behalf of the citizens of Philadelphia, one of only 150 women in the department. She earned commendations for helping save lives and was formally trained as an EMT after graduating from Murrell Dobbins Vocational High School.
Craig-Lewis started her career at Engine 9 in Germantown. Seeking a bigger challenge and wanting to “learn her craft,” she transferred to North Philadelphia’s often dispatched Engine 45, Sawyer said.
Hours after her death, Craig-Lewis’ aunt and cousin visited the scene of her last call.
“As dangerous as the job is, it didn’t matter to her. It’s what she wanted to do,” said her cousin, Letisha Battle.
“A single mother doing all she can to keep her family safe, and helping other families out,” said Claudia King, Craig Lewis’ aunt. “But that was her life. Firefighting was her life.”
Newsworks says Craig-Lewis’ death might “spark old questions about women in hazardous jobs”:
“The danger is not specific to women,” notes Angela Hughes, incoming president of iWomen, a national organization of women firefighters. “It requires a lot of strength and physical stamina, and we all face that.”
And the Daily News adds: “Craig-Lewis was the fourth firefighter to die on-duty in Pennsylvania – and 83rd nationally – this year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Capt. Michael Goodwin, killed in April 2013 while fighting a fire in a fabric store in Queen Village, was Philly’s last firefighter to die on duty.”