Hartford firefighter injured in blaze that killed fellow firefighter returns to duty

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HARTFORD–It’s been nearly 1 1/2 years since a fire killed Hartford firefighter Kevin Bell on October 7, 2014, and injured one of his fellow firefighters, Jason Martinez.

Martinez suffered burns to more than 10 percent of his body in the Blue Hills Avenue blaze, and was in critical condition for weeks at Bridgeport Hospital’s burn unit.

A report conducted after the fire to investigate what occurred determined that Martinez and his unit were searching the front of the house for hot spots when a hose stream struck Bell in the face.

Martinez said the hose stream knocked off his helmet and face piece and briefly made him unconscious. He reported, “It was extremely hot and his head and eyes were burning.”

The report states that Martinez lost consciousness again and tumbled out of a second-floor window of the house.

On Tuesday, January 26, Martinez returned to full duty with Tactical Unit 1.

He released the following statement about this return:

I would like to thank my Brother and Sister firefighters in the Hartford Fire Department and from departments across the country for the support they provided to me and my family during this difficult time.  I feel 100% and am going back to the job I love doing.  I hope this experience will prevent other departments and firefighters from suffering a similar tragedy.

In 2011 former Mayor Pedro Segarra honored Martinez and six other firefighters for their work putting out a blaze on Cleveland Avenue.