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March 4, 2021

Unified Fire Authority honors firefighters who died in the line of duty

RIVERTON – A small crowd of firefighters, city officials and others gathered at a Unified Fire Authority station Monday night to pay their respects to the firefighters who have died nationally in the line of duty.

The department held a lighting and bell-ringing ceremony as it illuminated all of its stations and buildings in red as part of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation memorial week.

“It’s really held to respect the firefighters and their family who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Chief Dan Petersen during a brief prepared statement. “This year … there will be 82 firefighters who died in the line of duty this year and another 21 who died in previous years but were determined to be line of duty deaths this year.”

Petersen told the group he felt it was important to stand in solidarity and honor those firefighters’ service.

“Our firefighters face the potential of an ultimate sacrifice every time they come to work,” Petersen said. “They may not face it every shift, but the potential is there every time.”

Petersen also observed in his statement the 2018 passing of Draper Fire Battalion Chief Matt Burchett, who previously served in his department for 20 years. Burchett was killed by a falling tree while battling the Mendocino Complex Fire in California.

Unified Fire Authority spokesman Patrick Costin said every firefighter accepts the potential for hazard as part of the job.

“It’s in the back of your head, but you try and keep it there and just keep it in the background,” he acknowledged.

The department plans to keep its buildings illuminated in red at night through Oct. 4.

“We don’t forget the fallen firefighters,” Costin said. “It’s a way to respect them and just always remember them.”

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