WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KDVR) — The Westminster Fire Department lost a 34-year veteran fire officer after a year-and-a-half-long battle with work-related cancer.
Fire Captain David Sagel, 54, died Sunday night. He leaves behind a wife of 33 years and two sons, along with many family, friends, and brothers and sisters in the fire service.
A service was held for him on Friday, you can watch the full video above.
(LINK: Wanting to make a donation in Sagel’s name? His wish was to have donations be sent to Children’s Hospital Burn Camp)
“The City of Westminster has lost an outstanding fire officer,” said Westminster Fire Chief Doug Hall. “We’ve lost an even better person.”
Sagel was diagnosed with a form of abdominal cancer, peritoneal carcinomatosis, in June of 2019. Sagel never stopped working for the department through his treatments, taking on administrative work when he was no longer able to respond to calls.
Sagel was well known for his passion for community service. In his off-duty time, he instituted and led a foster home renovation program where he worked with Adams and Jefferson counties to identify foster homes in need of repairs and recruited the help of other fire department members and local businesses to assist in renovating them at no cost to the families.
For many years he also served as the organizer for the “Hot Times KOOL Cars” event, in conjunction with KOOL 105.1 FM, which was an annual car show that raised money for The Children’s Hospital of Colorado.
Westminster Fire Chief Hall told FOX31 he was known for spearheading community projects, helping his firefighter family when in need.
“When I asked him why he’s always starting projects, he looked at me and goes, ‘Chief, I’m just trying to make it better for others that work in the station,’ and never once did he seek attention or the limelight, it was all about making it better for other people,” said Hall.
Several other firefighters at Westminster are also battling different forms of cancer. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, cancer caused 66% of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2019. Cancer caused 70% of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters in 2016.
“It’s a growing concern on my part and everyone in the department. It’s a regular conversation we are having,” said Hall.
In recent years, the department purchased a second set of gear for all 100+ firefighters, so crews never had to reuse contaminated equipment twice to allow time for washes between days on duty.
According to Hall, each set of new gear costs more than $2,000. It’s a hefty price tag, but if it means protecting his team, it’s worth every penny to him.
“As it relates to the comparative cost of going through cancer, it’s a moot point as far as I’m concerned,” said Hall.