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Local fireman honors fallen firefighters throughout Southern Illinois

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Brent Vanfossan, with the firetruck.
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Kody Vanfossan, Brent's son who was killed in a fire in Christopher, IL in May 2019.

CHRISTOPHER (WSIL) -- Brent Vanfossan has been a firefighter in Christopher, Illinois for over 20 years. And he has wanted to buy his own firetruck for quite some time.

"This engine belonged to the Sesser fire protection district. They had it for sale for a while. And I had been looking for something to honor my son Kody," said Vanfossan.

On May 5th 2019, Vanfossan's son Kody was killed in the line of duty while fighting a fire in Christopher.

"He was a character. Didn't know a stranger. Had a little bit of a mouth on him, which every young kid does. Do anything to help anybody. And he loved firefighting," Vanfossan said.

To honor his son and other firefighters throughout the area, Vanfossan is creating a memorial for fallen firefighters across Southern Illinois, by putting the names of the firefighters, their fire department, and when they died on the side of the truck.

"There are unfortunately 20 names on the door. We wish it was zero," Vanfossan said.

This winter, Vanfossan will be repainting and relettering the firetruck and will rename it the 237 engine.

"237 was my son's shield number," Vanfossan said.

Vanfossan hopes that the firetruck will help people remember firefighters like his son.

"I wanna make sure that the firefighters that die in the line of duty are not forgotten. Over the years, people move on, people forget. And that's my biggest fear, that Kody will be forgotten," Vanfossan said. "If one person sees the names on the door, and maybe goes on the internet and looks up who they were, its all worth it so at least one person remembers."

Vanfossan said the list of names for firefighters who died in the line of duty dates back to 1981.

He asks if you know of anyone from Southern Illinois who is not listed on the National Fallen Firefighter website, to contact him to have their name included on the truck.

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Madeline Parker

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