Colleague remembers fallen St. Louis firefighter - KMOV.com

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Colleague remembers fallen St. Louis firefighter

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Fire Captain John Kemper (St. Louis Fire Department) Fire Captain John Kemper (St. Louis Fire Department)
Firefighters outside a vacant house on Pennsylvania following an overnight fire (Credit: KMOV) Firefighters outside a vacant house on Pennsylvania following an overnight fire (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A colleague said a St. Louis firefighter who recently died inspired.

Fire Capt. John Kemper's death was ruled an 'on-duty death.' Kemper had been with the department since 1993 and was promoted to captain in 2008.

The 59-year-old leaves behind a wife, daughter and two grandsons, according to BackStoppers.

“We lost a first responder who gave his life to his work,” said Chief Ron Battelle, executive director of The BackStoppers. “Capt. Kemper was a man dedicated to protecting others. We will  now step in and help his family during these difficult times and for years to come.”

"He really inspired me, kept me interested in the service," said fellow firefighter Private Kentrell Williams. "In the captain capacity, you're more of a 'let me make sure my guys are safe' type thing; but he always wanted to be right in there with us."

Kemper was injured while battling a fire at a vacant building in the 3600 block of Pennsylvania in the early-morning hours of July 5. Remnants of fireworks were found at the fire scene, but firefighters do not know if fireworks caused the fire.

Authorities said Kemper was taken to a hospital after the fire with a shoulder injury. but was later released. Even though he was released, he was not cleared for duty.  

He was at home with his wife when he died on July 12 from injuries suffered while fighting the fire, authorities said.

Visitation for Kemper will be held Thursday from 3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and the funeral will be held Friday at 11:00 a.m. A location for the visitation and funeral is to be determined.

On-duty deaths are rare for the St. Louis Fire Department. The most recent death was Jeffery Hudson, who died in 2012. Four have died since 2002.

In total, four firefighters were injured after battling more than 100 fires over the Fourth of July holiday. Three were released from the hospital shortly after being admitted.

At the time, fire officials said fireworks were likely to blame for the fires. In a 24-hour period starting at 8 a.m. on Fourth of July, crews responded to 13 building fires, more than ten garage fires, more than 30 weed, grass or trees on fire, and more than 70 dumpster fires.

BackStoppers is stepping in to assist the family of a fallen St. Louis firefighter who died several days after he was injured while battling a fire.

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