It has been 26 years since the city of Wheeling lost a firefighter in the line of duty.
On Sunday, that firefighter, Assistant Chief Robert Foster, as well as nine others were remembered with a memorial service.
“Chief Foster was a really good guy. I worked with him for several years. It’s very important that people understand by these memorials and dedications that we do that firefighting is not all glamour, and it’s hard work. It’s dedication, and you can get hurt or unfortunately die,” said retired firefighter Tom Donathan.
Several firefighters from different departments were in attendance.
They say remembering their brothers lost in the line of duty is important to them and the community at large.
“We’re working every day to keep the citizens and visitors of Wheeling safe, and not only do we like to remind the public that firefighting is dangerous, we have to remind ourselves. We stay up on our training, and we’re always mindful that we may not go home at the end of the day,” said Bob Heldreth, Local 12 Spokesman.
The service also served as an opportunity to raise awareness for firefighting-related illnesses.
Heldreth says there are cancers and other diseases that firefighters are at risk of developing because of exposure to smoke and chemicals.
“We are working through the state legislature to try to get these illnesses recognized so that these firefighters can receive benefits similar to a line of duty death,” said Heldreth.
No matter the cause, those lost keeping citizens safe will be remembered for years to come.