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Update on Montour Falls training exercise where firefighter Peyton Morse died: Report highlights abysmal conditions for recruits

Peyton Morse died at a state fire training facility in Montour Falls in March 2021.

WWNY-TV in Watertown has obtained new information, which paints a grim picture about the circumstances leading up to his death.

Morse was unconscious on the floor of the training facility, as his instructors leaned over him- yelling, and asking if he quit.


He was a Watertown firefighter who became overcome while training at the state facility in Montour Falls, Schuyler County. His death raised questions about how the training occurred, and whether the entire thing could have been avoided.

The specific training exercise was one that involved the firefighter attempting to exit a potentially difficult and/or life threatening situation. Morse struggled, and by the time he came out- was unconscious and turning blue.

Instructors told investigators at the time that they had ‘no reason to believe’ that he ‘was not breathing’.

Recruits painted the most graphic picture. “His body was limp and he was not talking,” one told investigators. “Instructors were yelling at him at the top of their lungs and were asking him if he was quitting.”

Another recruit said it was hard to watch.

The recruits added that Morse’s inability to breathe was not taken seriously. They also pointed to an environment that appeared more like a military camp- than a training facility. “The entire point of me coming here, the entire reason my department is paying for me to be here is to learn how to be a firefighter. I am not here to be treated like sh**. Yelling at students at the top of their lungs and pushing them to the brink is an environment that is not conducive to learning. In the three short weeks we have sent four people to the hospital, one of which in cardiac arrest,” one of the recruits added to investigators.



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