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Annual Firefighters Memorial Remembers The Fallen

Bill Rinehart
The Greater Cincinnati Firefighters Memorial Service is held each fall at the Firefighters Memorial Park on Central Avenue.

Cincinnati and surrounding fire departments honored those who died over the last year during the annual Greater Cincinnati Firefighters Memorial Service Thursday.

Several speakers touched on one of the biggest issues facing the fire service: cancer-related deaths caused by years of toxic smoke inhalation.

"Long after answering their last call, many of our brother and sister firefighters will continue to feel the effects of a lifetime of service," said Fire Union 48 President Matt Alter. "Cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, cancer, and mental health issues are plaguing the fire service at an alarming rate."

Alter notes many retirees also suffer from exposure to unknown toxins and combustion byproducts.

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Chief Roy Winston issues the keynote address.

Cincinnati Fire Chief Roy Winston, serving as the keynote speaker, also touched on the issue, saying the most dangerous part of the job isn't running into a fire, but rather the smoke.

"Cancer is the leading cause of firefighter line of duty deaths across the United States, and according to the International Association of Fire Fighters, some 60 percent of career firefighters will lose their life this way," he says. 

The service included floral tributes from support organizations, last Roll Call and Final Bell ceremonies, and the playing of Taps.

The event is held each fall at the Firefighters Memorial Park on Central Avenue.

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Connor Courtney and Ben Fibbe contributed to this report.