BTFD Brian Hall Funeral 0304 023“He left us with a huge void to fill in his passing,” said Bethel Township Fire Chief Jacob King upon the death of his longtime Lieutenant, Brian Halk, noting that local residents as well as the department will likely struggle with the emptiness left by such a truly community-oriented man.

Halk was just 56 when he bravely surrendered his battle against cancer last Monday, February 29 with his loved ones at his side. The firefighter and EMT joined the Bethel Township Fire Department of Clark County in 1994, and was promoted to Lieutenant in 2008, where he acted as a great mentor to the younger generation.

King said it is significant to know that Halk faced his affliction with dignity and tenacity, choosing to remain working even while he endured treatment. He said it was common for Halk to work a scene while wearing a pack of cancer treatments, adding that Halk’s decision to work through the pain may have helped him keep up his fight as long as he did.

“The whole time he was going through treatment, he was showing up to work wearing his chemo fanny pack,” King said. “Allowing him to still be involved in the department helped him in his fight—it gave him purpose—a reason to keep going every day.”

He said that Halk’s involvement in community events was commendable, as he played a role in the department’s involvement in many Bethel Township and New Carlisle parades and festivals. Acting as the fire department’s Community Coordinator, Halk was instrumental in scheduling the shiny fire trucks and turnout-clad firefighters to appear at numerous events such as Party in the Park, Heritage of Flight Festival, and holiday parades, as well as establishing the department’s services at George Rogers Clark Park and the Fair at New Boston.

Though Halk was so deeply-immersed in his career, there was of course more to the man than just his love of being a first responder. He leaves behind his wife Brenda and children Kacie, Kim, and Bobby to carry on his memory through their memories. Halk was said to be an avid airplane enthusiast, and was known to almost always travel alongside his beloved dog Karpis, who King said always rode alongside Halk in parades.

King said while there is no way to prove that Halk’s cancer was a result of his career, he noted that firefighters have a 158-percent higher chance of getting the disease than those who do not fight fires for a living. He said there is a growing national trend of trying to scientifically connect cancer and the firefighter’s environment, and is hopeful that Ohio legislators will support the study and pass a “presumptive illness” bill that would presume that a firefighter’s cancer is a result of their work.

An article published the first of this month on reports that State Senator Tom Patton of Strongsville is on a mission to see Senate Bill 27 passed into reality, but is receiving opposition from The Ohio Municipal League, which claims that the presumption would cost communities more than $75 million as benefits are increased to cover the related visits and treatments. reports that Ohio Association of Firefighters President Mark Sanders is pushing for methods of lowering the cancer risk to firefighters by reminding them to meticulously clean their gear after expose to harmful substances in burning buildings.

The sense of family found in most fire department members was richly illustrated in Halk’s elaborate funeral procession on Friday, which wound through Medway and Donnelsville and then onto Springfield, earning respectful salutes from each department on the route. Halk’s family and friends bid him their final farewells at Ferncliff Cemetery, where former Bethel Captain Eric Beverly played the bagpipes amid the presentation of the badge and flag.

Engines and official vehicles from several departments fell in line after the hearse drove through the bays of Station 51 so that his comrades could salute their fallen brother, and in a touching display, attached Halk’s turnout gear bearing his name to the front of the lead truck.

“We all walked with him through the fight together,” King said.

As the ceremony drew to a close, a tone-drop sounded across all the radios of the many first responders in attendance, followed by a dispatcher’s voice that alerted the Bethel Township Fire Department of “the last call for Lieutenant Brian Halk,” followed by a long sonorous tone that rippled throughout the cemetery.

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