Local firefighter dies in Virginia

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 19, 2012

The St. Clair Shores Fire Department and a local family are coping with the loss of an active member of the force.

Mayor Kip Walby announced the death of a member of the department, James Nichols, 45, during the Dec. 17 City Council meeting, calling for a moment of silence in his memory.

“On behalf of the city, I would like to tender our deepest condolences to his family,” said Walby.

Nichols, who was a lieutenant and served 15 years with the department, died while in Hillsville, Va., Dec. 15, said Fire Chief George Morehouse.

Morehouse said Nichols lived in the city with his wife. He had an adult son and two grown stepsons.

“From talking with the guys, (he was a) very knowledgeable and outstanding paramedic,” Morehouse said, adding that Nichols was also a registered nurse.

Sgt. James Alderman, with the Hillsville Police Department, said Nichols’ death was accidental, but he could not disclose any more details.

“No foul play. It’s just an accident,” he said.

Morehouse said Nichols would receive a full, active-member fire funeral but arrangements were not complete, as of press time Dec. 18. He said a liaison with the department was working with the family.

“The membership is very much involved in helping the family through their hard times,” Morehouse said. “Firefighters see a lot throughout their careers, so their mechanism of coping with things … we do our best coping by talking amongst ourselves.”

City Council members expressed their condolences to Nichols’ family, and Walby said the past few months had been tough for the city.

It “must be heart-wrenching at the holiday time to have this happen,” Walby said. “Keep them in your prayers.”