Senior Engine Supervisor Joan Spear collapsed and died on March 18 while preparing for an annual fitness test. Spear, who would have turned 46 on March 22, worked for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in Dillon, Montana.
The fitness test, or pack test, requires firefighters to carry a 45-pound pack three miles within 45 minutes. Spear had passed the test on an annual basis, and was walking with a 25-pound pack when she collapsed. While the cause of her death had not officially been determined, a brain aneurysm was suspected.
Spear had been a seasonal wildland firefighter for twelve years, and was also a cattle rancher in Madison County. During the winter months, she trained volunteer firefighters and worked on forest improvement projects.
Spear was a full-body organ donor. According to DNRC supervisor Rick Strohmyer, jets were lined up at the local airport to send her organs around the country to people in need. "It was truly inspirational," Strohmyer said.
Her memorial service was held on Wednesday, March 27, at the Beaver Head Search & Rescue Building in Dillon. Spear's ashes were carried on her engine, Engine #42.
She is survived by her husband, Harry Worman. The family has requested that memorials be sent to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, P.O. Box 3633, Boise, ID 83703.
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE