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About Percy


The man who wanted to be a firefighter since the third grade, the man who went to court to become a firefighter, the man who became the first Shreveport Fireman to die in the line of duty in forty-two years was buried with full honors. He was not just a firefighter, but a fighter.
   Captain Percy Rudell Johnson, a ten-year veteran of the City of Shreveport Fire Department, gave his life on September 19, 1984 as a result of injuries received while in the performance of hazardous duty as a firefighter. Captain Johnson was a fallen hero, devoted public servant, a Christian gentlemen and a friend who was a credit to his community, church, and those with whom he worked. Captain Johnson was highly respected by all who knew him for his promotion of peace and harmony, as well as his extended efforts to assist others and for his obvious love of his job.
   Percy Johnson's many achievements are marked by his drive for social justice and willingness to be the first to step forward and accept obstacles inherent in promoting justice and equality for all.
   Captain Johnson was the second black applicant to qualify for duty with the Shreveport Fire Department. He was one of the original plaintiffs in a lawsuit which resulted in the integration of the Shreveport Fire Department, leading to the hiring of blacks and women.
   Percy was the first black fireman for the city of Shreveport to be promoted to rank of Fire Instructor with the accompanying rank of Captain. The muscular, mustachioed Johnson spent much of his free time coaching the department's basketball team, running in competitions against his colleagues, and encouraging physical as well as mental exercises. He was also known to help struggling recruits after class. Captain Johnson was an innovator, helping to form the department's nine member color guard, which was present at his funeral. Percy was responsible for many unsung accomplishments.
   If a city is to be great, great spirits must walk among. Captain Percy Johnson was one such spirit. In the end, he gave his most precious gift while doing what he truly wanted to do. He lived for the fire department and everyone that knew him, knew that no one loved his job more than Captain Percy Rudell Johnson.

Shreveport Police and Fire Memorial
Training Officer Percy R. Johnson
Hazardous Material Team
Injured: September 17, 1984     Died: September 20, 1984
Training Officer Johnson was answering a call at Dixie Cold Storage for an anhydrous ammonia leak in the building.  While inside, a spark caused an explosion and he was unable to get out of the building.  He died three days later.

Firehouse.com excerpt
The only documented death to a hazmat team member occurred in Shreveport, Louisiana in September 1984. At this event a team member sustained third degree burns over 90% of his body and died several days after the anhydrous ammonia atmosphere he was in, ignited. His partner was also badly burned but survived at the cold storage facility incident.
Most documented hazmat injuries have been minor in nature. In fact, over the last decade the rate of injuries for hazmat response teams across the country has declined possibly due to experience by team members, improved standard operating guidelines, or better personal protective equipment.

Anhydrous ammonia as a hazardous material
In 1984, one firefighter was killed and a second was burned over 72% of his body in an anhydrous ammonia explosion and fire that occurred in Shreveport, LA. Ammonia was leaking inside a cold storage building. While firefighters were working inside in Level A chemical protection, the ammonia reached an ignition source. Though it is listed as a non-flammable gas by DOT, ammonia burns inside structures and confined spaces; it is less likely to ignite out in the open. Precautions should be taken for ammonia leaks inside buildings just as for any other flammable gas.

J. Patrick Johnson Percy's partner and co-founder of the Burn Foundation.

President of PM HAZMAT, Inc., is past president and director of the Ammonia safety and Training Institute. He is a member of the IIAR Safety Task Force, Founder of NH3.com and Co-founder of NH3.org and chairman of The Percy R. Johnson International Ammonia Safety Summit. Patrick is also a member of NFPA, The National Fire Protection Association, RETA (Refrigeration Engineers and Training Association. Associate faculty member of the University of Missouri Fire Schools. As an Assistant Chief Training Officer and Hazardous Materials Response Team Member for the Shreveport Fire Department, he was burned on 72% of his body in an anhydrous ammonia explosion on September 17, 1984.
He co-founded the Percy R. Johnson Burn Foundation in 1985. The foundation helps burn survivors and their families cope with the devastating effects of burn injury.
Patrick has lectured, trained, and worked with over 15,000 people over the past fourteen years and continues to be on the vanguard for safety and training with ammonia and its related industries.

Biography | Shreveport Memorial
HazMat article excerpt | Anhydrous Amonnia |
Percy's Partner: J. Patrick Johnson


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The Percy R. Johnson Burn Foundation is a private, not for profit organization, dedicated to assisting burn survivors and their families. Supported projects include Camp I.S.M. The camp offers young burn survivors in Louisiana a summer camp atmosphere which promotes healing in a supportive community.

You can help. Simply click on Be A Hero.

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