WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The International
Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) mourns one of its own today,
as raging wildfires in southern California claimed the life of
Steve Rucker, a member of the Marin Fire Department who was
represented by Marin Professional Fire Fighters Local 1775.
Below is a statement from IAFF General President Harold
Schaitberger, who was in California at the time of the tragedy,
on the loss of Brother Rucker:

"On behalf of our 260,000 members, the IAFF sends our
sympathies to the family of Brother Rucker and wish for a quick
recovery to the fire fighters injured in the Cedar fire. The
heroism that he and his fellow fire fighters have displayed in
recent days to ward off this devastating threat to countless
communities and millions of residents is truly an inspiration to
all Americans, especially grateful Californians facing these
catastrophic fires.

"The loss of Brother Rucker is a reminder to us all on of the
significant dangers facing the men and women of the fire service,
especially those on the frontline in California right now. As we
have seen so often in the last two years, this is yet another
opportunity for our elected leaders to better learn and quickly
respond to the critical needs of our emergency responders.

"Based on our work with Senator Barbara Boxer, an amendment
was overwhelmingly passed yesterday that will require the
National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) to
conduct long-term health monitoring for fire fighters responding
to events -- like the wildfires -- that have been declared
natural disasters by the Federal government.

"As the IAFF mourns the loss of Brother Rucker, I am committed
to making sure that his death was not in vein. Being on hand
when Steve was brought to the hospital really brings his death
and sacrifice home to me. In his honor, this union and I will
work tirelessly to ensure that the Boxer amendment is ultimately
enacted into law and that his brother and sister fire fighters
who responded in California, and who will respond to future
disasters, are protected.

"May God bless our fire fighters on the fire lines in the
coming days and may they stay safe until this threat passes."

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The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered
in Washington, DC, represents more than 260,000 full-time
professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 80 percent
of the nation's population.