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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Fire Captain Caviness deserves to be remembered, repaid


He was courageous in his profession. He put others before himself. He was always the one doing charitable work.

He was Fire Captain William Caviness.

Caviness was a firefighter in the Greensboro area, serving the community as an eight-year veteran of Station 14 on Summit Avenue, just seven miles from Guilford’s campus.

He was promoted to captain in Dec., 2010, as recognition of his hard work and dedication.

Caviness tragically passed away while running the Chicago marathon to raise money for the International Association of Fire Fighters’ Burn Foundation.

His death is recognized by the IAFF and his family has been awarded the IAFF Medal of Honor to confirm Caviness’ charitable intentions while serving as a firefighter.

The IAFF is not responsible for dealing out line of duty death benefits, though, as those are determined by the state.

In this case, his family will not receive the benefits that states provide for other fallen fire fighters because his death is not recognized as a LODD since he was not “on duty” at the time of his death.

More than just a marathon runner, Caviness was running as a member of the IAFF Burn team, and his goal for the race was to raise $2,000.

After news of his death, donations toward his sponsorship page kept pouring in and truly exceed his goal, with the last check in at $18,600 for the team’s total.

Caviness collapsed 500 yards from the marathon finish line. He was doing something to better the world for others, and tragically lost his own life.

Where, exactly, does the line of duty end for servicemen like Caviness?

It does not end, and Caviness’ circumstance exemplified this, but he will not be recognized for it.

Death of a member of society who works as a serviceman should be held in higher respect by state policies, especially when either a direct or indirect affiliation with his/her profession is the cause of death, as is the case with Caviness.

Caviness leaves behind a wife and two small children. While attempting to remain sensitive to the fact that the hole created in their family will always remain, the question remains about what a LODD really is in Caviness’ case.

Yes, Caviness was off duty in regards to his hours at the station, but his duty as a serviceman never ended.

Charity work, when directed toward a profession, should be classified as on-duty work for cases such as these.

His family will need support, both emotionally and financially, to help cope with the death of a family member. Since his death is unfairly recognized as an off-duty death, this financial support solely comes from the community. Currently, community members have created the Will Caviness Memorial Fund in his memory, which is a step in the right direction, but still not enough.

They are the families of first responders, yet when these servicemen and women fall, society’s benefit packages are not there to help soften the blow for those that they leave behind.

The LODD policy should be revised to provide for families like the Cavinesses, because recognition of Caviness’ death as a LODD would respect his memory more so than a medal or a fund.

As a member of society who did so much for so little in return, it is important to give honor to his name and provide for his family in the same way that he provided for others.

He died trying to help others. He was a hero. He was William Caviness, and the LODD policy has left his family high and dry in their time of need. 

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