National News

BackStoppers assisting family of fallen St. Louis firefighter

Posted July 14

— BackStoppers is stepping in to assist the family of a fallen St. Louis firefighter who died several days after he was injured while battling a fire.

Fire Capt. John Kemper's death was ruled an 'on-duty death.' Kemper had been with the department since 1993 and was promoted to captain in 2008.

The 59-year-old leaves behind a wife, daughter and two grandsons, according to BackStoppers.

"We lost a first responder who gave his life to his work," said Chief Ron Battelle, executive director of The BackStoppers. "Capt. Kemper was a man dedicated to protecting others. We will now step in and help his family during these difficult times and for years to come."

Kemper was injured while battling a fire at a vacant building in the 3600 block of Pennsylvania in the early-morning hours of July 5. Remnants of fireworks were found at the fire scene, but firefighters do not know if fireworks caused the fire.

Authorities said Kemper was taken to a hospital after the fire but was later released. He died while out of town with his wife.

Funeral arrangements were not yet made available.

On-duty deaths are rare for the St. Louis Fire Department. The most recent death was Jeffery Hudson, who died in 2012. Four have died since 2002.

In total, four firefighters were injured after battling more than 100 fires over the Fourth of July holiday. Three were released from the hospital shortly after being admitted.

At the time, fire officials said fireworks were likely to blame for the fires. In a 24-hour period starting at 8 a.m. on Fourth of July, crews responded to 13 building fires, more than ten garage fires, more than 30 weed, grass or trees on fire, and more than 70 dumpster fires.

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