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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KDVR)— A memorial service was held on Tuesday for longtime South Metro firefighter paramedic Anthony Palato, who died from occupational cancer last week.

South Metro Fire Rescue planned a full honors, line of duty death memorial service and an emergency vehicle procession for the memorial service.

The procession began at Denver First Church in Cherry Hills Village and passed by four South Metro fire stations in Greenwood Village and Centennial.

Palato worked as a firefighter for 21 years, beginning in Sheridan before transferring to Cunningham, which later merged with SMFR. His diagnosis of occupational cancer came in 2017 and he continued to work after remission until his retirement on March 1, 2021.

Palato was not alone in his struggle, as eight other South Metro firefighters were also battling cancer in 2019. This led to improvements in gear protocol, including providing firefighters with two sets of bunker gear to avoid prolonged exposure to toxins that linger after contact with fire and smoke.

“As a paramedic for 21 years, there is no doubt that Tony touched many lives and will be remembered as a kind, caring and compassionate person with a true servant’s heart, he will be greatly missed,” said SMFR.