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In Memoriam: Lieutenant Jay Garth Wheeler

On Tuesday, March 4, 2020, members of the Seattle Fire
Department family were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of their
own, Lieutenant Jay Garth Wheeler, after a long and difficult battle with an
illness.

Jay faced his battle with great courage and without
complaint, surrounded by his wife, children, parents and so many others who
loved and cared deeply for him. Many from his fire department family spent time
with Jay and his family during his last days.

Lt. Wheeler was committed to the Seattle community. He first served as an officer with the Seattle Police Department at the South Precinct in 1989 before joining the Seattle Fire Department in April, 1997. Throughout his fire service career, he served on Ladders 5, 7, 9 and 11 and Engines 36 and 38. On June 28, 2017, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and was working on Engine 29 in West Seattle. He also volunteered as a scuba diver for the Seattle Aquarium.

Here are two small examples of Jay’s exemplary service:

On August 19, 1998, while off-duty, then-Firefighter Wheeler
was the first on the scene of a rollover motor vehicle accident. After ensuring
the safety of bystanders, he stabilized the rolled over car, coordinating ropes
to anchor points on the uphill side. He then initiated emergency medical care
to the single patient trapped inside the care until the arrival of SFD units.
In the words of then-Capt. Michael E. Walsh, he “acted in the finest of Seattle
Fire Department tradition.”

In 2006, while serving in the Fire Alarm Center, Firefighter
Wheeler received a letter of commendation for directing the delivery of a baby
by the first-time father over the phone. His steady-handed questions and sure
responses put both parents at ease and allowed them to focus on things that
needed to be done. The baby was found wrapped in a towel as instructed when
Engine 39 and the medics arrived a few minutes later. In their thank you
letter, the parents acknowledged Jay’s efforts and “all the life-savers at
Seattle’s 911. You helped bring a precious gift of life into our lives. We will
be forever grateful.”

In a letter to all SFD members, Fire Chief Harold D.
Scoggins commended Lt. Wheeler for his contributions to public service and as a
long-time valued member of the Seattle Fire Department.

More information will be posted on Lt. Wheeler’s memorial
service as it becomes available.