LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Okolona Fire honored two men who lost their lives while serving the department at their Station 2 on Saturday. Doug Bledsoe and Jeff Kamshafer’s names were added to the station’s memorial.
Kamshafer’s death is considered "line of duty", after the first responder died from cancer linked to smoke inhalation.
Okolona Firefighter Jordan Yuodis said, "It’s a constant sacrifice because this job – it’s physically demanding, its mentally draining sometimes but it reminds you of how dangerous it is and it makes you ask yourself is this really what I want to do."
Kampshafer was described as a mentor during his time with the department.
"He was a man of good principals and he shared those with younger people. I think that's the biggest part of his legacy- be a solid fireman, do your job, treat people right and everything else will fall into place,” firefighter Corey Thompson said.
The veteran firefighter served Jefferson County for more than two decades.
But his career was cut short with a cancer diagnosis late last year from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He died only a month after his battle began.
His death is the most recent in a string of cancer-related deaths for Kentuckiana firefighters.
The ones still serving say day-to-day operations have changed.
"Years ago, breathing in that smoke and having dirty gear that was cool but in today's society that's not cool at all,” Yuodis said.
Now, first responders keep baby wipes in the trucks- they call it wiping away the risk.
They also follow strict policy with gear requiring they wash it as soon as they get back to the station after a fire and keeping it out of the living space.
Yuodis said, "Really with each death, unfortunately, it kind of takes a step up. There's more precautions that you take."
Each death is a reminder that the danger doesn't stop after fighting the fire - their illnesses often becoming an invisible threat.