The line-of-duty death of Franklin Fire Department fourth assistant chief James C. Wilber was announced Sunday in a media release from the fire department and Delaware County Emergency Services.
Wilber, 58, died from an apparent heart attack while responding to a motor-vehicle accident on State Route 28, Franklin Fire Chief Tom Worden said. Wilber was transported to Tri-Town Regional Hospital in Sidney, where he was declared dead.
He was a dedicated member of the Franklin service with 39 years in the department, Worden said. Including his time in Wells Bridge before that, Wilber had been a fire volunteer for more than 40 years.
“He will be hard to replace,” Worden said, adding that Wilber was very dedicated to the needs of the community.
This is the first line-of-duty death in the department since 1977, Worden said.
Wilber had been an assistant chief for more than 10 years. He worked well with the local Explorers group and was not hesitant to respond to a fire or a motor vehicle accident, no matter what else was going on in his life, Worden said.
“He was always thinking about someone else,” Worden said.
Wilber is survived by his wife, Susan, and son, Ken, both of Franklin; his mother, Dorothy Wilber of Wells Bridge; a sister, Debbie Goss of Gilbertsville, and other family members. A Fireman’s Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Franklin Central School, according to the obituary.