Mass. firefighter dies of rare form of cancer

Patrick Corbett was a past recipient of Billerica's Firefighter of the Year Heroic Award for rescuing a downed firefighter in a house fire


Joy M. Hosford
Wicked Local Northwest, Concord, Mass.

BILLERICA, Mass. — Two tours of duty as a United States Marine, a marriage built on high school friendship and love letters, four children, and more than a decade as a firefighter, one of Billerica's finest, a winner of the Firefighter of the Year Heroic Award, has died of occupational cancer at 39.

With family by his side, Patrick Corbett died Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Massachusetts General Hospital after fighting Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones, for three years.

Patrick Corbett died of occupational cancer at 39.
Patrick Corbett died of occupational cancer at 39. (Photo/IAFF Local 1495)

Corbett leaves his wife, Lauren, and their four children Reid, Will, Faye, and Niall.

The news was announced by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1495.

According to members of the Billerica Fire Department, services have been scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 20 at Fox Hill Cemetery, 130 Andover Road, Billerica.

Sympathy and condolences to Corbett's family can be addressed to the IAFF Local 1495 at 8 Good St., Billerica, MA 01821.

There has also been a GoFundMe set up by Corbett family friend Jessica Ranford with the goal of $2,000. As of Wednesday, Nov. 17, the page had surpassed that goal rasing $4,465.

"With Lauren at his side, Pat fought cancer the only a Marine and firefighter can — with courage and determination," Ranford wrote on the fundraising page. "He endured countless rounds of chemotherapy, and after a year-long remission, the cancer came back."

She added after an intense procedure to help curb the spread of the illness Corbett endured "... weeks of grueling recovery at rehab where his family could only wave from outside because of COVID-19."

"Pat continued to fight, passing his on-the-road driving test in an adapted van this summer and walking indoors with a cane," Ranford continued. "[He] fought cancer until his body couldn't endure anymore and he passed away peacefully with Lauren at his side."

Additional donations to support the Corbett family can be sent to The Patrick Corbett Fund, c/o The Billerica Municipal Employees Credit Union, 365 Boston Road #107, Billerica, MA 01821.

Corbett earned the rank of corporal while a Marine, and was a veteran of the Iraq War, serving two overseas tours.

He connected with his wife Lauren during their time attending Billerica Memorial High School, but didn't kindle their romance until after graduation through letters and visits.

In 2014 Corbett was presented the Firefighter of the Year Heroic Award after a 2013 house fire on Pinehurst Street. During the call, Corbett and his colleague, firefighter James Harries rescued Lt. James Miner after he had experienced a mask malfunction while inside the burning building.

This action saved Miner's life.

A flood of support for the Corbett family has come out on social media since Tuesday.

State Rep. Marc Lombardo, R- Billerica, who said he had been close with Corbett since middle school, posted a tribute to his friend on Twitter. On Tuesday, the House held a moment of silence for Corbett.

"Members and guests are asked to rise for a silent prayer," said state Rep. Kate Hogan, D- Stow. "In respect of the memory of Patrick Corbett who passed away this morning. Patrick was truly a brave man in all he did, from his service as a Marine to his service to the residents of Billerica as a firefighter to his years of battling cancer. He was a hero to all who knew him, and will be greatly missed by his family, and his friends."

Fellow childhood friend Michael Skelton also memorialized Corbett on Twitter. He said Corbett and a small group of BMHS/Cyril D. Locke Middle School alumni spoke nearly every day and are heartbroken a key member of their tribe is gone.

"Pat was a great man and an even better friend. He was a true hero who sought no attention or credit, he only tried to protect and help others. Rest now my friend, and we miss you," Skelton tweeted. "He was the best of us and we were all better for having known him."

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(c)2021 Wicked Local Northwest, Concord, Mass.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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