CAMPTON — Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue is mourning the loss of Capt. David Lavoie, who died on Saturday morning while helping a friend do tree work in Hebron.
Lavoie, who grew up in the Center Harbor/Meredith area and was an employee of the Lakes Region-based Ambrose Brothers contractors at the time of his death, “was the kind of guy that was private, but was always there if someone needed help,” wrote Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue Chief Daniel Defosses, in a posting on the agency’s Facebook page.
“The Department is deeply saddened by his loss,” said Defosses, adding that Lavoie is survived by a son, a brother and sister, a granddaughter and grandson and stepmother.
He said Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue will also honor Lavoie, who joined the department in November 2008 as a call firefighter and was a week from his 53rd birthday, with a memorial ceremony in the near future.
Because Lavoie’s death occurred within 24 hours of his having responded to a Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue call, it is being investigated by the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s Office, said Defosses.
Defosses said Fire Marshal Paul J. Parisi and his deputies spent much of the day Saturday at the Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue headquarters on Route 49 and that they, as well as hundreds of people from around the state, have expressed their condolences.
On Sunday, an honor guard, made up of units from Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue, the Campton and Thornton police departments and New Hampshire State Police Troop F, escorted Lavoie’s body from Concord Hospital, where an autopsy had been performed, to the Mayhew Funeral Home.
Should it be determined that Lavoie died in the line of duty, his family would be eligible for federal assistance with final expenses. Defosses said the Campton-Thornton Firemen’s Association, whose mailing address is Post Office Box 1258, Campton, 03223, is accepting and passing along donations to Lavoie’s family.
Defosses said he was shocked that Lavoie, who was “probably one of the most active guys” in the department, died of what appears to be a “cardiac-related” medical event.
He said that about 12 hours before Lavoie’s death, which occurred sometime between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Saturday, Lavoie was one of three Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue firefighters who responded to an activated fire alarm at a Campton residence.
“It was nothing too crazy,” Defosses recalled. “He drove the engine. Not many people came in because it was late at night,” adding that the alarm was determined to have been set off by burnt food.
After having cleared that scene, Lavoie, several hours later went to help his friend in Hebron, where he “basically, just had some sort of event” and died, said Defosses.
While the cause of Lavoie’s death is not official, Defosses strongly believes that stress was a factor.
The human body has a tough time dealing with stress, Defosses said, with firefighters particularly vulnerable because of the nature of their jobs. That stress can manifest itself suddenly, he said, noting that nationally, cardiac deaths are the leading cause of mortality among firefighters.
Lavoie, said Defosses, was “very well-liked, very well-respected” and was also a cut-up who “liked to get people riled up.”
“He had some great sayings,” Defosses recalled, cautioning, however, that they were a bit salty at times.
“He used to embrace the fact that he wasn’t a very good speller,” said Defosses, but Lavoie was a very good firefighter, and occasional welder for Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue, and “one of our best truck drivers and engine operators.”
On Monday, Defosses said Lavoie’s family and the Mayhew Funeral Home in Meredith were making arrangements.
Defosses said Lavoie’s death came less than one day after the extended Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue community remembered another fallen firefighter, Steven M. Bomba, at the fourth annual Steven M. Bomba Public Safety Scholarship Spaghetti Dinner in Lincoln.
On Aug. 19, 2016, Bomba, 25, was killed on Interstate 93 in Canterbury when the pickup truck he was a passenger in crossed into the median and struck a stand of trees.
The deaths of Bomba and Lavoie have hit Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue hard, said Defosses, who nonetheless draws comfort from the outpouring of support for them, including on Facebook.