Garrett Ramos, a fire lieutenant with the Sterling Fire Department, died in the line of duty in December 2021, and now, his widow says no one has taken accountability for the actions that caused his death.

“Losing Garrett has been the most heartbreaking, crushing pain, and then to find out that a multitude of mistakes caused his death is an added layer of devastation,” Brittney Ramos, Garrett Ramos’s wife said in a statement. “Every person in command and his partner failed him. Due to their gross negligence and complacency, my husband and father of my children was taken.”

Garrett and Brittney Ramos and family (photo: Brittney Ramos)

“Every person in command and his partner failed him. Due to their gross negligence and complacency, my husband and father of my children was taken.”

Brittney Ramos

According to the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office, a 911 call was received around 11:04 p.m. the night of the incident, regarding a house fire in Rock Falls, and the Sterling Fire Department responded to an automatic aid alarm to assist the Rock Falls Fire Department. Crews from Dixon, Milledgeville, Prophetstown, Tampico, Polo, Harmon, Amboy, Mount Morris and the Chadwick fire districts and CGH EMS support, provided assistance. According to a release, while Ramos was inside fighting the house fire, the floor collapsed beneath him, necessitating a rescue operation. According to a statement from the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office, “EMS crews attempted life-saving techniques en route to CGH Medical Center, where doctors continued their life-saving efforts to no avail.”

Fire Lt. Garrett Ramos, 38, died while responding to a house fire in rural Rock Falls, after serving the Sterling Fire Department since October 2012. (Photo courtesy of the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office)

Brittney Ramos says both cities’ departments acted in ways that were hazardous and ended in citations. “No one has accepted responsibility for their role in Garrett’s death. Instead of owning their failures, the cities and fire chiefs are contesting the facts of the Illinois Dept. of Labor investigation,” Ramos said in the statement. “For four months, every person in command has known ALL of the mistakes (11) that occurred and no one has stepped up to own their actions and acknowledge wrongdoing.” 

OurQuadCities.com received the following documents from Ramos pertaining to the accident and fire call:

Ramos said she has faith that help will come with the evaluations. “The IL OSHA Division Manager, Erik Kambarian, is a former fire chief, so there is no doubt of his knowledge and expertise while evaluating this fatal incident,” Ramos said. “This cannot happen to another family.”