Union says retired Dayton firefighter dies of job-related cancer

Retired Dayton firefighter Robert “Bobby” Hetzer Jr. has died of pancreatic cancer that union officials say was related to his job.

Hetzer, who worked for the fire department for more than 29 years, died on Oct. 26.

The Dayton Firefighters Local 136 says Hetzer will be remembered with a Line-of-Duty Death service with full honors.

“The job is ultimately what killed him,” said Jim Burneka Jr., trustee with the Dayton Firefighters Local 136. “The saying is, ‘He died with his boots off.’”

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Over 29 years of service, Hetzer routinely was exposed to carcinogens that led to pancreatic cancer, which he was diagnosed with earlier this year, Burneka said.

Hetzer was 56 years old. He joined the Dayton Fire Department in September 1984. He retired in June 2013.

It’s sad and unfortunate that he did not get more time to enjoy his retirement after working hard for so many years, Burneka said.

Hetzer was a big, warm, funny, fun guy who was often the life of the party, Burneka said.

“We considered him a legend,” he said. “He was everybody’s friend.”

The Line-of-Duty Death service will be held Friday at the Tobias Funeral Home — Beavercreek Chapel at 3970 Dayton Xenia Road in Dayton. The public viewing will be between 9 and 11 a.m. The service starts after that.

There will be a graveside service at Forest Hills Memorial Gardens in Tipp City.

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