Ky. fire chief dies after battle with cancer, COVID-19

Zoneton Fire Protection District Chief Robert Orkies, 55, was a more than 36-year fire service veteran and had been diagnosed with cancer shortly before contracting the virus

Duty Death: Robert “Rob” Orkies - [Shepherdsville, Kentucky]

End of Service: 12/11/2020


By Laura French

ZONETON, Ky. — A Kentucky fire chief has died after a more than month-long battle with both COVID-19 and cancer. 

Zoneton Fire Protection District Chief Robert "Rob" Orkies, 55, had tested positive for the virus shortly after being diagnosed with skin cancer and starting chemotherapy. He had been hospitalized since Nov. 9 and was placed on a ventilator on Nov. 19. 

Zoneton Fire Protection District Chief Robert
Zoneton Fire Protection District Chief Robert "Rob" Orkies, 55, died Friday after a more than month-long battle with both COVID-19 and cancer. (Photo/Zoneton Fire Protection District)

Orkies died Friday after the battle with both illnesses, according to fire district officials. He was a more than 36-year fire service veteran and had served with the Zoneton Fire Protection District for about 26 years. He had previously served with the Okolona Fire Department. 

"He was respected by all who knew him. All of us are deeply saddened by his death. Our condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends," the Zoneton district said in a Facebook post Friday. "This is a difficult time for the entire Fire Department, and we will need to come together to get through it. All of us know when we choose firefighting as a path that this type of occurrence is possible. But that does not make it any less tragic or any less difficult to bear once it actually happens." 

Orkies had served as Zoneton fire chief since 2003, according to his obituary. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Billie Jo, a son, a daughter, two granddaughters, four sisters and two step-sisters, and his step-mother. 

Orkies' funeral will be held on Friday, Dec. 18. 

Join the discussion

NFFF

National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Support the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and help to honor America's fallen firefighters

Donate now

Copyright © 2021 FireRescue1. All rights reserved.