Connecticut Police & Fire Union

IAFF Local S-15 President Stephen McDuell Speaks About the Tragic B-17 Plane Crash at Bradley Airport

Last week CPFU’s Local S-15 President and Airport Crash Rescue Firefighter Stephen McDuell spoke to both NBC Connecticut and News 8 about the tragic B-17 plane crash at Bradley Airport. Reprints of both stories, including videos, can be found below.

The Union would like to recognize the tireless efforts of all those who assisted during this tragedy including all firefighting and EMT personnel at the Connecticut Airport Authority, the CT Air National Guard and surrounding volunteer departments. CPFU also sends its deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost loved ones in the crash.

Firefighters React to Response of Vintage Plane Crash at Bradley Airport

It’s been a long couple of days for Connecticut state firefighters from Bradley International Airport and the Connecticut National Guard, especially those on duty who were the first to respond to the vintage plane crash Wednesday.

“It hasn’t sunk in to any of us as of yet,” said IAFF local S-15 President Steve McDuell. He’s been president of the local union for 9 years and a firefighter at the airport for 16 years.

McDuell said plane crashes are something they have prepared for. “The firefighters did an amazing job. They did everything they were trained to do,” he said.

But, of course, it’s something they hoped they’d never have to respond to.

McDuell painted a picture of what the first couple of minutes looked like for his colleagues who were first called to the crash. “So we had 7 guys on duty, which is three crash trucks, paramedic, and two guys in the engine and the Air Guard, I believe had three or four people.”

He continued, “so you’re starting out with ten people, 11 people to start this incident to put out a fire. And that’s why I say the Air Guard and us work well together. They made some rescues of some people that were there. Obviously our hearts go out to the victims of this tragic accident.”

As the severity of the situation unraveled, surrounding crews were immediately called in and off duty airport firefighters too, like him. A state taskforce was activated.

“We’re a limited staff for a paid department. You can’t do it without the resources of the volunteer services around our town. They did a great job coming in and supporting us.”

While NTSB investigates what caused the crash, local responders can’t say much about what they witnessed. “I can say, you saw a lot that a normal person isn’t going to see. It’s not something you see every day and hopefully we don’t see that again.”

In the aftermath, the local firefighter union acknowledges long term effects on responding members are unpredictable from exposure of chemicals to their mental health.

In a statement, they wrote they “will be ensuring all members have the support they need.”

“It’s a tough job. It’s a job you sign up for and you train for a lot and you never think you’re going to come to this. It has and it’s put a lot of toll on a lot of firefighters.”

McDuell said the NTSB has hired local firefighters to stand watch during their investigation to make sure nothing rekindles.

He said investigators should be done removing what’s left of the crashed airplane Sunday.

Firefighters Reflect on Their Experience Responding to B-17 Plane Crash at Bradley

“There’s a lot of things that you saw out there that a normal person would not want to see. Can’t really talk about too much of it — it’s still under investigation. It was definitely a tough scene to see some of the victims — it was tough to see. A very tragic event that’s something you don’t want to experience again, that’s for sure.”

—Steve McDuell, President of Firefighters Union

In the wake of the deadly B-17 crash at Bradley International Airport, first-responders talk about how quickly they jumped into action and how they are now dealing with what they encountered.

As the days go on, we are getting a clearer idea of what it was like for those firefighters who responded to the tragedy at Bradley on October 2nd.

The flames, the smoke, and seeing the victims in that plane…all sights that Steve McDuell says will stay with him forever.

McDuell, who is the President of the Firefighters Union, is one of the airport firefighters who ran toward the flames to try to help the people whom were on board the B-17 known as ‘909’ after it crashed on Wednesday.

McDuell, along with a team of seven other firefighters and four Air National Guardsmen, responded to the 909 fire within three minutes of the crash.

McDuell says he and the others are still trying to process what they encountered at the crash site, and they’re getting help.

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