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3 members of Ohio FD die within days of each other

Columbus Battalion Chief Richard Richardson’s occupational cancer death was followed by the losses of Firefighters Michael Calafatis and Gary D. Childers

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By Leila Merrill

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three members of the Columbus Division of Fire have died within a week.

Battalion Chief Richard Richardson died in late January of occupational cancer, according to Columbus Firefighters Union Local 67. He served for 34 years, the department said.

“Richardson’s legacy of leadership and Brotherhood lives on through his family, including his sons Lt. Michael Richardson and Firefighter Matthew Richardson,” the union said on Facebook.

Firefighter Michael Calafatis died Feb. 1. Calafatis served in Columbus for 21 years. He served the division in multiple capacities including firefighter, paramedic, bomb squad technician and as a tactical medic, the department said.

The department announced Firefighter Gary D. Childers’s death on Feb. 3. He had served with the department since 2011.

“We ask that you continue to keep those families in your thoughts as well as our fire family as we grieve their loss,” the fire department posted on Facebook Saturday. “We are thankful and truly grateful for all the kind messages we have received from the community. We always appreciate your continued support as we will continue to serve you.”