Just after 11:19 p.m. Friday night firefighters were dispatched to a commercial fire at the Knights of Columbus on Groesbeck Road in Bryan. When firefighters arrived they had heavy fire conditions and one crew entered the building. It was just a short time later that Lt. Eric Wallace called for help and stated his air was low. The RIT Team entered the building and located Wallace. That’s when they believe there may have been a structural collapse.
“During the fire effort the Lieutenant and the firefighter off of that first arriving engine company made entry into the building and radioed they were low on air and needed assistance,” explained Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor. “At that point, the order was given to evacuate the building and the firefighter on the initial engine company was able to escape the building. The Lieutenant was removed by another team of firefighters where he later succumbed to his injuries.”
Two firefighters have also been injured in the fire. Firefighter Ricky Mantey Jr., 30, and Probationary Firefighter Mitch Moran, 21, are last listed in stable condition. They were taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, then by helicopter to UTMB in Galveston for treatment of burns. Both of them and Pickard were part of the third truck in RIT Team. The team who stands by in case a firefighter becomes trapped. It is then their responsibility to rescue the firefighter.
Pickard had been a Battalion Chief with the Bryan Fire Department but at his request was given a Lieutenant. His reasoning was that he was hired to fight fire and not stand on the side lines.