Brockport Fire Department Steps it Up for Fellow Firefighter who died from Pulmonary Fibrosis | American Lung Association

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Brockport Fire Department Steps it Up for Fellow Firefighter who died from Pulmonary Fibrosis

(November 4, 2014)

Editor's Note: Photos of Roger Smith are attached and available for use 


Ebony Walmsley, ewalmsley@lungne.org860.838.4374
Kathleen O’Neill, koneill@lungne.org518.545.5045

Rochester, NY - As a cook in the Navy and a dedicated firefighter, Roger Smith, of Brockport knew the meaning of the word, “community.” Now, Smith’s fellow firefighters are participating in the American Lung Association of the Northeast’s Fight for Air Climb on Saturday, November 15, 2014, to honor their fallen brother who died from pulmonary fibrosis.

The Brockport Smoke Eaters’ team will take part in the American Lung Association’s most unique fundraiser. Climbs take place in prominent skyscrapers, stadiums or arenas and involve walking, running or racing up hundreds of steps. Sometimes called a "vertical road race," teams and individual participants can use the event as a fitness target, as a race, or as a great way to be active and meet new friends.  

Smith’s daughter-in-law, Kelly Smith, said he developed pulmonary fibrosis after he was exposed to asbestos in the tight quarters he lived in for years while in the Navy.  

Kelly Smith, said her father-in-law dedicated 45 years to the Brockport Fire Department. “Up until two weeks before he passed away he was still going down to the fire department every day,” Kelly Smith said. Smith spent time as an active firefighter, a director and council member for the fire department.

“Our Fight for Air Climbs allow  the Lung Association to spread its mission about preventing lung disease and improving lung health in a unique manner, “ Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association for the Northeast said. “We are honored to have the Brockport Smoke Eaters team participate in honor of Roger Smith." 

The Brockport team has participated in the Rochester climb since its inception since 2012, growing in numbers from 12 to over 20 members. All of the team participants wear a picture of Smith on their air tanks as they trek up the 20 stories at One Bausch & Lomb Place. “The fire department was his life. He’d be really honored, Roger (Smith) was someone that was always about the cause,” Smith said.

Kelly Smith said her husband has faced the common misconception about his father that it was smoking that killed Roger Smith. While he did smoke, Roger Smith eventually quit. “The doctor told him that the smoking didn’t help, but it wasn’t what caused the disease. The damage was already done from the asbestos,” she said.

Kelly Smith said she hopes Brockport Smoke Eaters’ participation will provide the American Lung Association more opportunities to research lung disease and educate the public, so other families don’t face the same experience as hers. “It’s horrible to watch someone suffer and die the way he did. It’s a terrible thing to see,” she said.

 For more information contact Annalise de Zoete, Development Manager at 585-666-1402 or

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