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Salt Lake City honors history of fire department, those lost in the line of duty

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Posted at 10:10 PM, Jul 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-20 00:10:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- In the history of the Salt Lake City Fire Department, 14 firefighters have fallen in the line of duty.

The first was Asa Hall Hancock. His death occurred 95 years ago last week, and modern-day firefighters honored him recently.

Hancock was a lieutenant on Salt Lake Fire Engine No. 2, and on July 13, 1920, the crew was responding to a fire when the engine hit a trolley car.

Hancock was thrown from the rig and suffered fatal injuries.

"The trolley driver decided instead of stopping, he was going to try to beat the other side of the intersection and he didn't make it,” said Ryan Mellor, a division chief for the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

The house fire that had been started by a young boy was out before the other firefighters arrived.

But Hancock's death was not in vain.

"Because of him is why we have the laws that say you need to pull over for emergency vehicles,” Mellor said.

At Hancock's funeral in 1920, 45 uniformed officers marched with his casket. The recent ceremony was emotional as well.

Michael Workman, Honor Guard President for the fire department, explained: "It's a family, it truly is. They're all my brothers. They're all my sisters. To have their support, to have them backing us up, to show us that, 'Hey, we're there if you need us', is just a tremendous feeling."

Salt Lake City Fire Station No. 2 is the busiest in the state. Of the approximately 30,000 calls that come in each year citywide, Station 2 takes 6,000 of them--or 20 percent of the total.

Capt. Danny Sorensen has been over Station 2 for years, but he recently retired.  He said it was bittersweet.

"It's been a great honor to be a part of Salt Lake City Fire Department; it is a big deal,” he said. “To be a firefighter is a big deal anywhere in the world, this has been the most wonderful job that I could ever, ever ask for."