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Fallen firefighter Terry Shafer honored on national stage

Spring Valley Fire Chief Terry Shafer was the grand marshal for the 2014 Dam Days parade, in which he was honored for his community service. He rode on top of the fire truck the department bought in 1992. Photo courtesy of Shafer family

A longtime Spring Valley firefighter was honored at a U.S Fire Service memorial on Sunday.

Terry Shafer, Spring Valley's fire chief for 30 years, was among 103 other firefighters who died in duty and were honored at the Emmitsburg, Maryland service at the National Fire Academy. As part of the service, his name was added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the academy's grounds.

Shafer was the only firefighter from Wisconsin honored in the service, and one of 60 other Wisconsin firefighters honored throughout the program's 37 years, according to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation website.

"Terry's love in life was his family, and then the fire department," said current Spring Valley Fire Chief Mike Fitzjarrell.

It was expected that more than 5,000 people attended Sunday's ceremony, according to a press release announcing the honor. Eighty of the firefighters honored died in duty in 2017 and the other 23 were from previous years.

Fitzjarrell said that Shafer's three kids attended the ceremony.

Shafer was part of the Spring Valley department since 1979 and became chief in 1986, before finishing as a member in his final year.

Fitzjarrell took over as chief at the start of last year and said that many of the same practices that Shafer implemented have continued to be used. Shafer was well known throughout the area, and respected by other fire chiefs, he said.

"He helped build Spring Valley Fire Department," he said. "We still operate pretty much the same as when Terry was chief."

Shafer, who grew up on a Spring Valley area dairy farm, died from a heart attack on Feb. 25, 2017, while on a weekend trip with his brothers. It happened less than 24 hours after he responded to a fire call, deeming him eligible for the Sunday memorial.

A funeral last year drew over 300 public servants and Gov. Scott Walker ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in Shafer's honor on March 3, 2017.