Local firefighters remember the fallen ‘a hero is the firefighter on day one that signed up to do this job’

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Governor Gary Herbert ordered the American and Utah state flags to fly at half-staff at all state facilities and public grounds until sunset on Sunday.

It was in honor of the 38th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.

Nationwide, 92 firefighters in the past year have died in the line-of-duty.

They include Draper’s Battalion Fire Chief Matthew Burchett.

Governor Herbert issued a statement Sunday on his passing. “Last year, Utah lost Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett, who deployed to California to assist during that extreme fire season. We remember him for his bravery, for his willingness to volunteer to help, and for the love he showed in giving his life in the service and protection of others.”

Burchett, passed away during a deployment to fight the Mendocino Fire. The fire was a combination of two wildfires, the River Fire and Ranch Fire, which burned in Mendocino, Lake, Colussa and Glenn Counties in California.

Prior to Burchett’s death, the last firefighter to die in the line-of-duty was several decades ago.

“Locally in our department, the last active duty death was actually in the seventies,” said Ryan Love, a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority.

Love and his fellow firefighters have spent the past week paying homage to Burchett and their other brothers and sisters nationwide who laid their lives on the line to protect the public.

“To me, a hero is the firefighter on day one that signed up to do this job,” said Love. “It’s not the moment that they passed away. They had always been a hero.”

Love shares why this weekend is so important. “It’s always to remember the dangers of our job and the sacrifice that those have given.”

For memorial week, all 24 of Unified Fire Authority’s stations were lit up with red lights.

“We have lit all of our stations red in commemoration of those brothers and sisters who have passed away not only locally here, but nationwide,” said Love.

Unified is the first agency in the state of Utah to participate in the national Light-The-Night campaign.

The campaign leads way to the 2019 Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme focuses on families putting together an emergency exit plan in case a fire breaks out in their home.

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