Mar. 12—EVANS MILLS — Grant L. Hall, a longtime fire instructor and widely respected voice within the fire service community in Jefferson County, died Thursday after he was involved in a car accident. He was 86.
State police are investigating the fatal two-vehicle crash that occurred shortly after 12:15 p.m. at the intersection of Route 11 and Interstate 781. The investigation revealed that a 2010 Kia, operated by Mr. Hall, was traveling north on Route 11 when he drove past a steady red signal and struck a 2021 Honda head-on, according to state police.
The driver of the Honda, Brandon K. Kunz, 28, of Killeen, Texas, was taken to Samaritan Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries.
Mr. Hall was airlifted from the scene to Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and was listed in critical condition. At about 11:25 p.m. Thursday, Mr. Hall died from his injuries.
The fire service community quickly took notice of Mr. Hall's death, with several Jefferson County departments issuing condolences to the state fire instructor.
Scott Alexander, a captain with the Northpole Fire Department, said he knew Mr. Hall well and took many of his classes over the years.
"This is a sad day," Mr. Alexander said. "Grant was so professional, had so much passion and so much enthusiasm when he taught."
Mr. Hall taught anywhere from essential, basic firefighter training to pump class and ladder class and many more. He was known among members as respectfully outspoken about fire safety, how he thought fires should be fought and how departments should interact with the community.
"We can't say enough about him" Mr. Alexander said. "This is a great loss for our fire people in this county."
Mr. Hall lived in Philadelphia and would visit his friends at the local Jreck Subs for breakfast almost every morning. He often came in during the evening as well to get a half-sub for himself and some kind of meat for his dog.
Jreck owner Dawn Hall — no relation — said his dog is OK and is staying with a neighbor. She also said he was a master woodworker, giving wood a 3-D effect with his craftsmanship and making anything from trinkets to wooden locks.
"He was always very nice," Mrs. Hall said. "The girls at night always appreciated him coming in."
Travis Donelson, chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department, said Mr. Hall lived right around the corner from the fire hall. He would often come down to talk fighting fires, hopefully to help someone through a scenario and have them learn from it afterward. He was the type of leader who helped members think critically and then do it right, whatever they were doing.
"He lived and breathed the fire service," Mr. Donelson said. "That was everything to him."
State police are continuing to investigate the crash.