San Francisco

Veteran SF Firefighter Dies at Station After Early Morning Call

A veteran San Francisco firefighter died Sunday after returning from an early morning fire alarm call, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Terry Smerdel, a 26-year veteran of the department, was found unresponsive by coworkers in his office, Chief Joanne Hayes-White said in a news release. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Battalion Chief Terry Smerdel, who passed away this morning while working a shift at Battalion 1," Hayes-White said. "Battalion Chief Smerdel has been a valued member of our Department since October 15, 1991, and has been assigned to Battalion 9 since January 2017. Terry worked in a variety of assignments and was a long-time member of Station 17. ... He was a devoted family man; great husband, father, grandfather and brother. He will be greatly missed by his Fire Department family."

Mayor Ed Lee also released a statement about Smerdel's unexpected passing.

"A dedicated veteran of the department, Terry put the safety of our city and our residents above his own day in and day out," Lee said. "Not only was Terry a committed professional, he was a family man and beloved by all those who knew him."

The cause of Smerdel's death is unknown.

As a mark of respect, San Francisco Fire Department flags will be lowered to half-staff until further notice, Hayes-White said. Details regarding services are pending.

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