Tacoma firefighter collapses, dies while on aid call

A Tacoma firefighter rendering aid to a sick person collapsed of an apparent heart attack and died Tuesday, city officials said.

Albert A. Nejmeh was a 12-year veteran of the department and became the 14th city firefighter to die in the line of duty, department records show. The last was in 1988. Department flags were lowered to half staff and firefighters wore mourning badges Tuesday.

Nejmeh, 59, was known for his generosity, work ethic, and singing and song-writing skills.

“Co-workers describe Al as the most interesting man in the world,” IAFF Local 31 posted on its website. “He was a friend to all, never said a bad word about anyone and would give the shirt off his back to anyone, literally.”

Tacoma Fire Chief Jim Duggan said Nejmeh served on the department’s technical rescue team and was known to teach other firefighters tricks of the trade.

“Al was a well-loved and well-regarded Tacoma firefighter,” Duggan said. “He lived a genuine and deliberate life. We will miss him.”

Nejmeh was assigned to Ladder 2, which worked out of Station 8 at 4911 S. Alaska St.

His crew was dispatched to a medical aid call shortly before noon, city officials said. While at the call, Nejmeh collapsed. His comrades rendered aid to him and drove him to St. Joseph Medical Center, but he died, the city reported.

“The Fire Department would like to thank the physicians, nurses and staff at the St. Joseph Medical Center’s emergency department and catheter lab who worked valiantly to save Nejmeh’s life,” the city reported.

Details about a memorial service will be announced at a later date.