Hundreds turn out to honor Madison firefighter who died Sunday

A large crowd of family members, friends and fellow firefighters filled the University of Wisconsin Field House Friday to honor firefighter Richard Garner, who died unexpectedly Sunday.

(Scroll down or tap HERE to watch full service.)

Among the speakers paying tribute to Garner were Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis, as well as Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Gov. Scott Walker and Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin.

Garner collapsed suddenly in Mount Pleasant shortly after completing his shift with the Madison Fire Department Sunday morning, April 1, 2018.

Garner joined the Madison Fire Department on September 24, 2012. He served as a firefighter/EMT at Fire Station 5 until moving to Fire Station 10 and eventually becoming a paramedic in 2017.

Garner was recognized by his peers for his passion for the fire service, working with youth, giving back to the community on- and off-duty, and encouraging others to consider a career in firefighting.Davis says there's still no information on Garner's cause of death.  Friends say Davis ended a two-day shift Sunday at 7 a.m., and went to the Racine area to join friends for an Easter Sunday church service, and lunch, and then collapsed.  Davis says the nineteen calls for service Garner helped respond to over his two day shift were a smaller-than-average number, but says some of the calls were difficult.

Mitchell says as a result of Garner's death taking place within twenty-four hours of his work shift, it qualifies as a line of duty death.Information from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation indicates a death such as Garner's death may not qualify for survivor benefits connected to a line of death duty.  The foundation says those benefits are seventy-five percent of the firefighter's average, annual salary multiplied by four.  "In most cases, this one-time death benefit would not be paid to an officer dying of "heart-related causes,"  the foundation's web pages states in relation to Wisconsin law.Mitchell says the 29-year old Garner's mother is expected to receive the death benefit.Garner is a California native, and former UW football player.  Davis says the department was unaware of any significant health problems with the 6'6", two hundred eighty pound Garner.Davis says firefighters undergo annual physicals, and periodic fitness testing.  But he says there'll likely be review of firefighter health standards.

"We have a dead firefighter here in the city of Madison,"  Davis says.  "So as we learn more information,  we've got to make sure as an organization that we figure this out and learn if this could have been prevented,"  Davis says. 

Funeral services will be held in Garner’s hometown in California.

Garner's death is the first line of duty death of a Madison firefighter in more than a decade.

For more go to WKOW:

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