CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — Firefighters from across West Virginia gathered to honor and remember their fellow comrades who lost their lives in the past year.
According to the President of Citizens Fire Company Ronald Fletcher, the number one cause of death is having a heart attack before a call, during a scene or stress afterward.
“Basically it’s all about respect, it’s a big part of this service and pride and that’s the least we can do,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher said firefighters, EMS and law enforcement are experiencing new dangers like being shot at on scene or inhaling dangerous drugs like fentanyl.
“Just inhalation of the smallest particle if it’s in powder form can absolutely drop you, so that’s some of the newest threats that we encounter on a day to day basis,” said Fletcher.
However even after hearing about and possibly experiencing dangers, local firefighters say they head straight into disasters for one reason.
“Firefighting is a dangerous job but I do it just for the fact of a life that can be saved,” said Firefighter & EMS for Citizens Fire Company Chaz Vangilder. “We all have a job whether it’s volunteer or paid, we do whatever we can to help people.”
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 32 firefighters have died giving their lives to save others in 2019.
“It’s a big family that we all look out for each other,” said Safety Officer for Citizens Fire Company Ed Hannon. “We’re all brothers in the fire service and the comradery, the respect and honor that we share is a very strong draw.”