South Davis Metro Fire marshal dies after skills training exercise

Published: Monday, Aug. 29 2011 9:57 p.m. MDT

BOUNTIFUL — A South Davis Metro Fire Agency marshal has died from complications associated with a training exercise held Friday.

Steve Cox, who has been employed by the department for 22 years and was recently sworn in as Farmington City's part-time fire marshal, was participating in a fire fighting skills fitness test when he complained of breathing and balance issues and was treated at the scene by colleagues.

After not being able to catch his breath, Cox was taken to Lakeview Hospital. He later became unresponsive and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. When his kidneys and liver began to shut down, Cox was flown to University Hospital "for a higher level of treatment," according to South Davis Fire Chief Jeff Bassett.

Cox, 55, died inexplicably Sunday afternoon.

"We know that he deteriorated quickly," Bassett said, adding that doctors were unsure of any reason for the sudden death. "It's just been a very traumatic event for our family here at the fire department and for Steve's family."

State medical examiners are conducting an autopsy to determine an official cause of death, but Bassett said that heart attack and stroke had been ruled out after Cox first arrived at the hospital.

"Right now, we just don't have answers," he said.

Cox leaves behind a wife and three sons, a daughter and a step-daughter, as well as their families.

"He was the type of guy that if you needed something, he was the first guy you'd call," Bassett said. Cox was part of the agency's investigation team, but also helped to serve many of the needs of the community in fire prevention efforts and enforcement of building codes.

A viewing is being planned for Thursday at the Bountiful Regional Center, 835 N. 400 East, in North Salt Lake. The funeral service will be Friday at 11 a.m.

"The loss of Steve is critical to our knowledge base here," Bassett said. "We deal with emergencies. We deal with some very traumatic events that people go through every day of their lives. We're not typically used to doing that to ourselves. It's an unfortunate event."

Wendy Leonard, Twitter: wendyleonards

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