INDIANAPOLIS — A procession of fire trucks and first responder vehicles escorted the remains of Indianapolis Fire Department Engineer Matthew Bennett to Crown Hill Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest on Monday, November 23.
Bennett was on the job Friday morning when he began complaining of chest pains. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
“That kind of spread around quickly that Matt had suffered a medical emergency, but we didn’t know the extent of that. You hoped that everything would be okay,” says Bargersville Deputy Fire Chief Matt Pruitt, who used to work with Bennett at the Wayne Township Fire Department. “I have known Matt for 25 years.
“I remember days at the St. Patrick’s Day gatherings down at the Union Hall. You could go across that crowd, being packed, and you could pick Matt out. He was the center of attention. You couldn’t find a hole in that guy when it came to pumping water at an incident, to getting the ladder in place. That’s what he loved doing.”
Bennet was firefighter for 23 years, but he was a public servant for 38. Bennett was an IFD dispatcher before becoming a firefighter.
“Anytime that we heard Matt on the radio, he knew the city so well, he knew all the fire stations so well, he knew all the fire districts within the city so well, you always knew whatever information he was sending to you over the radio, it was solid information,” remembered Deputy Chief Pruitt.
Bennett was often seen driving firetrucks to scenes for IFD. He was on duty Friday morning when his unit was dispatched to an accident. A car had driven through the garage of a home. While on scene, Bennett began complaining of chest pain. He was taken to the hospital for surgery but didn’t survive. The exact cause of death remains unknown, but doctors say firefighters can be prone to heart complications.
“This is very well known that firefighters, their number one cause of death is heart disease,” explained Dr. Roopa Rao, a cardiologist with Indiana University Health. “High risk of stressful job, high anxiety level is attributed as one of the cause in heart disease in firefighters.
“It’s been studied that these patients on an average have during the stressful that their heart rate goes up by at least 50 beats per minute in firefighters.”
The Indianapolis firefighting community continues to mourn his loss. A public visitation will be held at Crown Hill on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A procession will also be held on Nov. 23 before he is laid to rest. The route has yet to be provided, but it will drive past IFD Station 1 before returning to Crown Hill.