October 30, 2017 07:13 PM
(ABC 6 NEWS) - He’s known around the country for helping shape the next generation of firefighters.
Today, his friends and colleagues are mourning his death and celebrating his life.
On Friday morning, 53-year old Brian Staska died after waging an 18 month battle with cancer.
He'd spent 30 years as a fire-fighter ... serving departments in Austin, Brownsdale, Stewartville and Owatonna ... and two decades as the fire instructor at Riverland community college.
"He touched a lot of lives through instructing, " Austin Fire Chief Jim McCoy said.
“Brian was fiercely passionate about the fire service” added Riverland’s, Matt Bissonette. “He wanted to make sure people were safe in their homes, and he took his job seriously."
"Extrication was his specialty, he traveled all over the state and Wisconsin and Iowa to teach extrication, automobile extrication," Austin Fire Chief Jim McCoy said.
And while it's still not clear whether his cancer was related to fire-fighting, Brian Staska became a strong advocate of taking steps ... like a thorough cleaning of turn-out gear ... to reduce exposure to cancer-causing agents.
"If Brian can be the last firefighter who ends up with cancer, whether it's job-related or not, that's our goal," Fire Chief Jim McCoy said.
Three weeks before his death, the "Pink Heals" support group paid Brian Staska a surprise visit to say “thanks”
“He was dedicated to his wife and family, he was just a passionate guy," Riverland’s Matt Bissonette said.
And how is Austin Fire Chief Jim McCoy going to remember Brian Staska most: “As a friend."
Visitation for Brian will take place on Friday, November 3rd from 4 to 7 pm at Worlein funeral home in Austin.
His service will take place the following day on November 4th at 2 pm at the Austin high school.
Created: October 30, 2017 07:13 PM
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