Firefighter dies after suffering heart attack while at scene of Sproat Lake barn fire

A Sproat Lake volunteer firefighter died of a heart attack after arriving to tackle a large barn fire.

Lt. Ron Suits, 69, had just arrived at the fire Thursday and begun to pump water from a tanker to the fire engine that crews were using to douse the flames when he suffered a heart attack, said Sproat Lake Fire Chief Mike Cann.

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About 35 firefighters from four departments were at the scene, some of whom performed first aid on Suits. He was transported to hospital by air ambulance, but he did not survive.

The barn was fully engulfed by flames when fire crews arrived about 7 p.m. Thursday. Firefighters worked until around 10 a.m. Friday to put the blaze out.

Cann said the barn was filled with thousands of bales of hay, making it the fire difficult to extinguish. An excavator was brought in to pull the hay apart, so crews could douse flames. The barn was completely destroyed.

Suits leaves behind his wife, Leanne, and two children: Tyler, 21, a paramedic, and Rebecca, 19, a university student.

Leanne Suits, his partner of 25 years, said her husband was community-oriented, hard-working and loved his job.

“Ron was not afraid to live his life, and I think that that’s a rare thing. People live in fear. People hesitate to live their life. He lived his life the way he wanted to, and I think that’s such a valuable thing,” she said. “He believed that love is love and that there’s not enough of it in this world.”

Leanne Suits said her husband’s sudden death is a reminder “to love the people that you love. Hold them tight.”

Suits was an experienced firefighter who spent 27 years working for the Calgary Fire Department and was a board member of the Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department before joining Sproat Lake more than four years ago.

He was a mentor and teacher to less-experienced crew members, Cann said.

“He was never pushy, but always helped guide our inexperienced members with their learning in a complimentary way,” he said.

Cann said Suits was well liked and will be deeply missed.

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