When David Jameson Jr. joined the Independence Fire Department and the crew at Station 5 more than 20 years ago, little did Doug Rose know he was taking on much more than training a rather green firefighter.
“In soulful reality, I was adopting a son,” said Rose, a former fire captain who retired in 2010.
Jameson, 52, died Thursday afternoon after firefighters responded to a reported residential fire and he suffered a medical emergency at the scene. He was rushed to Centerpoint Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
Jameson served most of his 23 years with IFD at Station 5 in the southwest area of the city. He was part of the department's hazardous material team. By Friday morning, the crew at Station 5 had lowered its flag to half-staff.
Jameson leaves behind 10 children, his mother, grandmother, two brothers and two sisters. Details of a funeral service and memorial have not been finalized.
Rose said many saw Jameson as a “big teddy bear.” Assistant chief Mike Ditamore, who worked with Jameson for a few years, called him “a great guy, a dad, a grandfather, a big kid himself.”
“He had a very muscular build, which became a trait of my entire crew,” Rose said, recalling how much of a family that station became, socializing with parties and barbecues off-duty. “Many other crews were jealous of our unit's abilities in strength, skill, camaraderie and love for each other.”
“My biological sons came to the station for long periods of time in the evenings and weekends. We all became one big family.”
Rose, who served 36 years in the fire service, said he recalls fun conversations in the truck no matter how stressed or exhausted they were, though it's hard to recall Jameson without the whole crew.
“David rarely ever said a bad word about anyone; that's why he fit in so well,” Rose said. “So when I think of our times together, I don't see one person. I see us all, and that was David personified. He was all about being there for people.”
“Dave, he was really one of the best employees we had in that he simply went to work and did his job, and he had a great personality,” said fire captain Kirk Stobart, who served for a time at Station 5 and is president of the Local 781 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “He was very well-liked by everybody. We're going to miss him.”
Fire Chief Doug Short said Jameson's career included many letters of commendation and heroism.
Jameson died after he and others responded about 1 p.m. Thursday to a reported residential fire on the city's west edge.
When crews arrived at the scene, Jameson said he was feeling short of breath and stayed behind in the truck with one other firefighter while colleagues snuffed out an illegal open burn. When firefighters returned to the trucks, Jameson fell unresponsive and colleagues immediately started emergency procedures and called for an ambulance.
“We've got some great paramedics and EMTs, some of the best in the KC area,” Stobart said. “He couldn't have been in better hands. If he had any chance, I'm sure they gave it to him.”