Memorial Service Honors Firefighter Who Died of Cancer

November 04, 2017 11:24 PM

(ABC 6 News) – Dozens of first responders from across southern Minnesota paid their respects Saturday to firefighter Brian Staska, who died last week due to cancer.

Staska, 53, spent three decades involved with fire service, including stints on the Owatonna, Stewartville, Brownsdale and Austin Fire Departments. He also worked at Riverland Community College, training firefighters about safety and response tactics.


“"If you knew Brian, you knew his generosity. He was always buying you lunch or picking up the tab. He was the kind of guy that gave the shirt off his back without any questions asked,” read a message from his wife Wanda at the memorial service. “Brian was very proud of his girls. He was the only man in the house of four girls, so he had to embrace his feminine side. There were many times he would go to work with traces of glitter on his shirt or long, blonde hair stuck to him.”

ABC 6 News has followed Staska’s story since shortly after his cancer diagnosis in 2016. He was featured in an investigative story about the rising cancer rate among firefighters.

Staska’s family told ABC 6 that while these rates are rising, they aren’t sure whether his cancer diagnosis was directly tied to his firefighting career.

In early October, Staska was surprised when a pink fire truck stopped in front of his Austin home. The truck’s visit was part of the Pink Heals program, which takes its trucks all over the country to show support for cancer patients.

After Staska’s death on October 27, words of support flooded in from across the region, with the Kasson Fire Department writing on their Facebook page that, “Brian has been a HUGE part of everyone in the fire service. Please keep his family in your prayers! RIP Brian, you will be missed!"

Staska leaves behind his wife and three daughters.


Logan Reigstad

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