A veteran firefighter captain collapsed and died while working at the city dispatch center early Monday morning.
Fire Capt./paramedic Matthew McKnight, 51, of Thousand Oaks was a 31-year veteran of the LAFD. His co-workers did not witness his collapse, but found him unresponsive at the Metropolitan Fire Communications Center at 1:07 a.m.
"Despite an exhaustive effort by colleagues who immediately performed CPR, applied a defibrillator and instituted advanced life support measures, Captain McKnight proved beyond medical help and was declared dead Monday morning at the Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center," said LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey, in a written statement.
He was last seen alive at 12:55 a.m. -- five minutes before the conclusion of a busy five-hour watch during which he supervised almost a dozen firefighters and dispatchers at the communications center.
McKnight is survived by his wife, daughter, son and two brothers, who are also firefighters.
On the LAFD News & Information blog and a Facebook tribute page, condolences poured in.
"This came as truly shocking and devastating news, quickly followed by a wave of disbelief and deep sadness," firefighter/paramedic and department spokesman Eric Scott wrote on Facebook.
"I cannot remember a morning that (McKnight) did not welcome you with a warm smile and a firm handshake, asking how you are doing -- not superficially, but because he really cared," Scott added. "He was a very competent and knowledgeable Captain who found that perfect balance of kindness and being a Commanding Officer. He was NEVER too busy to help."
"Please know our thoughts & prayers are with Captain McKnight's family & his brother/sister firefighters of LAFD during these trying days," Capt. Barry Stafford of the Boston Fire Department wrote on the blog page. "Rest easy Cap, your duty is over & well done! May God welcome you home, Brother."
Humphrey said the coroner's office will look into the cause of McKnight's death. Funeral arrangements are pending; updates will be posted on the blog.