STAMFORD, Conn. – The name of a Stamford firefighter who made the ultimate sacrifice has been added to a national memorial.
Richard Saunders, a 30-year veteran, died of cancer last year. He was 52 and left behind his wife, Cathy; two step-children, Michael and Kelly; two sisters and several nieces and nephews.
Because his illness arose from his firefighting duties, he will be listed on the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colo.
According to the Stamford Fire Fighters Association, it honors firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
The names of seven other Stamford firefighters are already engraved there, the group said.
They are: Capt. Daniel Chichester, who died in 2010; William Thomas Miller Jr. (2001), Henry Wosniak, (1973), Capt. George Daily (1956), Capt. James R. Murray (1945), Thomas J. Meehan (1932) and Oscar H. Spahr (1920).
“It is a sad reality that there are 7,400 names on the National Firefighter Memorial Wall and eight of those are firefighters who died in the service of our city,” said the association’s president, Brendan Keatley.
“It is critical that we always remember the sacrifice made by firefighters such as Richard Saunders,” Keatley added.
A ceremony at the memorial is set for Saturday, Sept. 17. It will be streamed live at 1 p.m. ET on http://www.koaa.com/category/300829/live-stream-beta .
Etched in granite are the names of professional firefighters from across the United States and Canada who died in the line of duty dating back to 1918.
They include those who have died on the job, as well as an “alarming number” of firefighters who succumbed to chronic illnesses linked to the fire service such as heart disease and cancer, Keatley said.
The names, the association said, “tell a bigger story, a century of sacrifice and service, a fire service that has given so much but become stronger and made communities safer.”
Saunders, a Stamford native, began his career in 1985 and rose through the ranks to establish a distinguished career that involved “many memorable moments and commendations,” according to his obituary.
During his first year, Saunders and his crew rescued a man who had been trapped under an oil tanker truck.
Saunders also helped rescue a man and two children from a house fire.
He became a hazardous materials technician in 2000 and had, during the last eight years of his life, been the assigned driver of Truck 2, serving the residents of the city’s south end.
He was a certified firefighter 1 and 2 and a medical response technician.
After Saunders died, Keatley praised him as “a valued colleague, a key part of the community and a friend to all he worked with.”
Saunders “will be sorely missed both within the department and in the larger community,” Keatley added.
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