When it comes to the fire service and helping his community, people who knew Brandon Peterson called it his calling.
“He loved being a firefighter. He loved being at the station,” Lancaster Battalion Chief William Rhodes said.
Peterson, a 10-year veteran with the Lancaster Fire Department, died Dec. 29 after his battle with lung cancer. News of Peterson’s passing has been a shock to his fellow firefighters and surrounding departments, Rhodes said.
“Brandon found out a year ago he had cancer,” Rhodes said. “He’s a really young guy with a wife and two kids, so it’s been extremely hard.”
A memorial service was held Saturday beginning with a procession in Mansfield, where his father served as assistant fire chief before retiring. The service was held at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
Aside from his passion for the fire service and love for his family, Peterson’s colleagues said he would be remembered for his humor.
“Sometimes this job can be very emotionally trying and hard,” Rhodes said. “Brandon was good at defusing that and helping some of the guys take a lighthearted approach after being around something that was traumatizing.”
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Lancaster Fire Chief Kenneth Johnson, who has been with the department for 2 1/2 years, said while he had not known Peterson as long as some other members, he was proud to know him.
“Up until his last days, no complaints. Always happy, smiling,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys talk about how he was a real prankster. I heard a story yesterday about how one [prank] involved wrapping paper, wrapped everything at the station as a gift. Wrapped all the sheets, all the blankets.”
At the time of Peterson’s death, he and his family were in Orlando, Florida. Rhodes said the immediate response from local fire agencies there was a testament to the brotherhood within their service.
“Orlando Fire Department and associated resources came in and provided him an honor guard and a procession in Orlando to the airport before he even came back to Texas,” he said. “The fire service, the brotherhood as a whole is nationwide. It’s universal.”
A GoFundMe to help Peterson’s family was set up by the Lancaster Firefighters Association. It had raised more than $35,000 as of Saturday.