Mount Vernon Firefighter Collapses, Dies At Scene Of Early Morning Fire

Kevin Townes Remembered As A Rock, A True Man's Man And Family Man

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A veteran firefighter collapsed and died on duty while battling a house fire on Thursday.

The fallen firefighter’s widow stood before the half-staff flag outside fire headquarters in Mount Vernon a mere hours after the tragedy, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Kevin Townes, 54, spent more than a quarter century doing the work he loved. He collapsed before dawn, losing his life even as he prepared to risk it one final time at a house fire.

“He fell. He broke his nose. They did some CPR on him. They tried to revive and they couldn’t do it; they just couldn’t do it,” Firefighter Denato Christiano said.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Scene

Townes’ brother, Gregory, described a man who was larger than life.

“He would come in here and really just light up this room. He really would and I see a lot of people nodding their heads,” Gregory told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane.

His collapse was so sudden, he didn’t even appear to extend his arms to break his fall.

Neighbors, including Charles Mayers, describe a frantic effort to revive Townes.

“It was just unfortunate. There’s no other way I can explain it,” he told Murnane.

It seems impossible. Friends pointed to the gym equipment Townes used to stay in shape — a bear of a man able to press 315 pounds. He was a man in love with the work as well as his heartbroken family.

“Every firehouse we ever passed he had to stop and go in and tell them he was from Mount Vernon, where the real firefighters are from. He had the years in. He could’ve retired, but he said he wanted to keep doing this as long as he could,” wife Patricia Townes said.

The couple has four children. One is grown and away, but the others were at their mother’s side trying to comprehend the loss.

Mayor Clinton Young promised the Townes continued help even as their father’s organs were harvested for transplant to others.

“Kevin is still on the job as we speak.  His service did not stop at 4:06 a.m. He continues to serve mankind,” Young said.

Funeral arrangements are pending — a rare process in a department whose last death in the line of duty occurred on Jan. 18, 1995, when Firefighter Dennis Mullen collapsed while pulling a hose from a pumper – a death eerily similar to way Townes died on Thursday.

Please share your thoughts below….

  • Michael

    I used to work with Kevin at Childrens Villiage…he was a great friend. I haven’t seen or spoke to him in years but everytime I passed the firehouse in mt.v, i thought of him. To his family — God Bless You all in this time of need. I pray that God comfort you and keep you in his care.

    Michael Whitfield

  • Sharyn L Grant

    My deepest condolences to this family. Sounds like Kevin Townes was a good man, good values and loved people. May God bless and keep his family. and may they know that the works of their father and husband will live on in the lives he has touched in life as well as in death. God blee you…

  • Ricky Herman

    My Sincerest Condolences to the entire Townes’ Family. Kevin was my best friend while we attended the Post Road School and we both went on to attend and play football at Hightlands Jr. High School. Afterward, I went on to play football at WPHS and I College as a Nat’l Champion. I have never in my life seen a better athelete than Kevin Townes and that includes Art Monk. As I have told my wife and my boys both of whom play football, if Kevin had not looked back to see how far ahead of everyone else he was, he absolutely would have scored at least 5 Touchdowns against Eastview. In latter years I ran into Kevin on a commuter train and when our eyes met, he ran over to me, bear hugged me and easily lifted me off the ground despite my 235lbs. I can only hope and pray all the love and affection you experienced from Kevin during his lifetime will provide some comfort to you in the future. I loved Kevin. May he rest in Peace.

    • Ricky Herman

      If there is anything I can do for the family, please do not hesitate to call me. I practice on Park Avenue in NYC.

  • Daughter Blair

    You are the true meaning of a father. You are my daddy and my best friend. You never judge. You always give great advice and the truth. I miss you so much . The house isnt the same without you but i know you are with God and are looking over us. Its still hard for me to comprehend and accept but i know God’s children go when He is ready for them, so until its my time please keep my spot warm. I love you “Mr. Brown”. . . sleep in peace. I will talk to you everyday and look at you everyday. There’s no one like you, no one at all. You are great and you moved a lot of peoples lives. This house doesnt feel the same, its like in every room i see you walking alongside me. I ask God to keep us strong during this rough time, its so hard, but my help cometh from the Lord. Ill see you later daddy, ill see you in a while <3

  • Keith

    My deepest condolence to his entire family, it sadden me for lost of such a stand up person a family man and a friend god bless his family.
    Grace and peace to you From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Chirst .

  • George Polgano

    My Prayers are with Kevins family he was a guy that I remember that was always smiling. Had a lot of fun playing softball against him and the MV Fire Department at hutch field many Years ago. He was a big guy that eveybody got scared when he got up wondering how far he was gonna hit the ball. Haven’t seen him in a long time but very saddened bye this tragedy. Again Townes family will be in my Prayer.

  • Lartharee & James Jones

    To the Townes family please know that we love you. You are in our prayers and please know that God has his arms of protection around you. Kevin’ sense of humor and love for life will certainly be missed. Not only was Kevin a fighter here on earth he was a man who believed in God and may his soul rest in peace.
    We are here for you and we are very saddened about the loss of our brother.
    Lartharee & James Jones

  • Daughter Rebecca

    daddy i will always keep you in my heart and i willl never ket you go out of my mind. Daddy you are the best father any girl and boy could wish for. You were the best son any man and woman could wish for. But most of all you were the best person t talk to for up and downs and that why you are my rock and my heart

  • Thomas Mullins

    My prayers go out to his family. It was my father who last died in the line of duty so I understand what they are going through. Pray for them. Just a correction, my father’s name was Dennis Mullins badge 111, not Mullen.

  • Howie Sprague

    May Firefighter Townes rest in peace … Condolences to his family and his Brother Firefighters …

  • Goose McCray

    Pat & the Townes family; please know that I & the men of the FGMM will misshim tremendously…His friendship & humor were extremely meaningful to me..Know that he remains in our prayers…..Love, Deacon Goose McCray

  • Alan

    Rest in peace brother.

  • billy

    I leave near these people. Kevin is one of my friends. Our concert is coming up and we are going to dedicate a song to his family.

  • capt bill's daughter

    my condolences to firefighter townes’ widow and children, and his mt vernon fd family.he was a hero in life, and self-less in being an organ donor after his passing. it is a sad day as well in worcester massachusetts as well, where a “brother” to ff townes died in the line of duty. my dad was nypd for 30+ yrs, and was always saddened at the loss of first responders everywhere. thanks to all who wear a uniform in the service of their fellow citizens. final alarm struck, duty accomplished. rest in peace.

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