Throughout a battle with leukemia that lasted more than two years, Dan Moran was always optimistic about the future, his colleagues from West Metro Fire Rescue recall. The 50-year-old West Metro …
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Throughout a battle with leukemia that lasted more than two years, Dan Moran was always optimistic about the future, his colleagues from West Metro Fire Rescue recall.
The 50-year-old West Metro firefighter passed away Feb. 7, leaving behind family, friends and colleagues who remember him for his determination, particularly during the years he was physically unable to work because of his illness.
“He was positive and when he spoke about returning, it wasn’t `if’; it was `when,’” said West Metro Fire lieutenant Jeff Delgado. “It was a good thing to witness his optimism through it all.”
Moran passed away from a line of duty illness after an 18-year career as a firefighter and paramedic. Raised in Wheat Ridge, he graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Zoology and “later found the career he loved; being a firefighter,” reads Moran’s obituary.
“As a husband, father, son, uncle and firefighter, Dan will be missed greatly by all whose lives he impacted,” it says.
Delgado remembers Moran as a reliable companion both on and off the job. The two worked side-by-side and often spent time together outside of work, with both families living in Arvada.
“My memories are of a loud and funny individual who was just fun to be around,” Delgado said. Having spent many shifts with Moran, “we would have a good time, we would tell jokes, we would help each other through situations. He was a good guy for that.”
West Metro safety captain Travis Hopwood likewise took notice of Moran’s positive energy.
“He was always smiling,” Hopwood said, and “he cared for his community. He knew the response area and the people and the business-owners very well.”
Throughout his friendship with Moran, what stood out most to Hopwood was that “first and foremost, he’s very much a family man,” he said.
And Delgado agreed: “What defined him was his family,” he said. “He adored his wife and daughters. All he did was for them.”
Moran’s illness was attributed to some of the chemicals that firefighters face on the job, which cannot always be avoided, even with current protective gear and safety measures, Delgado said.
“We’re exposed daily to diesel exhaust. We go to structure fires where we’re exposed to plastic burning or poisons, and to calls that may be hazardous-material calls,” he said.
He and Hopwood added that departments across the country are making advancements to mitigate this problem.
At West Metro, recent changes include a switch to a more protective hood for firefighters to wear on calls, and a system to minimize diesel exhaust in the station as firefighters are parking their trucks, Delgado said.
The firefighters have also started washing down and changing out of gear on-scene, as opposed to returning to the station in contaminated gear, Hopwood said.
Additionally, West Metro has partnered with South Metro Fire Rescue and the University of Colorado to conduct a sleep study. Over the next five years, the study will determine how the responders’ sleep schedules affect their mental and physical health, and what can be done to mitigate these effects.
“Our culture’s changing, and I hope that trend continues,” Delgado said.
Both firefighters remembered Moran for his efforts to ensure that others in the department worked to stay safe.
“He shared with us to make sure we don’t ignore the little things we can be doing,” Hopwood said.
To his colleagues, Moran also embodied a commitment that all of them share. That commitment came through every time he spoke of his determination to come back, they said.
“There are countless cases of people becoming ill from what we do and yet, we’re all still here. There’s that servant attitude, and another big part of what we do is the love we have for each other,” Delgado said. “He didn’t give up. Dan loved being a firefighter.”
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