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‘We’ll miss Ben forever’: Family, friends say goodbye to fallen St. Louis firefighter

Benjamin Polson, 33, was killed last week in the line of duty.

ST. LOUIS — First responders from across the St. Louis region said goodbye to one of their own on Thursday.

The funeral for Benjamin Polson, 33, was held at the Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End. A visitation for Polson was held on Wednesday at the Kutis Funeral Home.

During the service, St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson was the first person to take the podium to speak about Polson.

“I’m here today, not only to mourn the passing of firefighter Ben Polson, but rather I’m asking for your prayers and thoughts to help me, his family and the fire department celebrate his life and commitment to the citizens of the City of St. Louis that he served so courageously,” he said. “We need firefighters just like firefighter Ben Polson.”

Captain Larry Conley also spoke and described Polson as a man who showed a lot of promise.

“Ben was an evolving firefighter with everything he needed to reach any goal he set for himself and exceed any expectation set before him,“ Conley said. “Losing a brother in the service is never easy, this loss hit us all hard. Still, we should bear in mind that Ben was doing what he had grown to love.”

A few of Polson’s loved ones then took the podium including his sister Rebecca Slay. She shared stories of her brother and talked about how much he meant to her.

“I’m a better person because Ben was part of my life and I’ll miss him forever,” she said.

Polson's aunt Annette Vogts and friend Dan Barraco also spoke during the service and shared how much they will miss him.

“To all of you here today, being part of our lives and knowing that you care for Ben and our family is truly a blessing beyond all. We’ll miss Ben forever,” Vogts said. “Rest in peace little Benjamin, we love you so.”

Watch the funeral service in the video below:

After the funeral service, first responders will participate in a procession, which will end in south county at Resurrection Cemetery, located at 6901 MacKenzie Road.

Governor Mike Parson also announced flags will fly at half-staff in the City of St. Louis and outside the Fire Fighters Memorial of Missouri in Kingdom City Thursday.

"Firefighter Polson died in the line of duty, willingly taking on risks in a highly dangerous profession so that others in St. Louis could be safer," Gov. Parson wrote in a news release. "He will always be remembered as an honorable, dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice because of his commitment to the well-being of others.”

Polson was killed Jan. 13 while fighting a fire on Cote Brilliante Avenue in north city. The St. Louis Fire Department said the building was vacant but there were initial reports people could be trapped inside. According to the department, Polson was on the second floor and in the process of leaving the building due to unsafe conditions when the roof collapsed. Two other firefighters who were injured in the fire have since been released from the hospital. 

Polson joined the department in 2019. His father, James Polson, is a retired captain for the St. Louis Fire Department. 

Credit: UPI
Newly graduated firefighter Ben Polson shakes the hand of his father St. Louis Fire Captain Jim Polson (Ret.) during the Kenneth Smith Graduation ceremonies on July 9, 2021. Polson was killed and another injured while fighting a house fire in St. Louis on Thursday, January 13, 2022. The firefighters attempted to get out of the vacant house when the roof collapsed trapping the two until others pulled them out. The death is the first St. Louis firefighter to die in a fire in twenty years. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Polson is a graduate of St. John Vianney High School. In a release, the St. Louis Fire Department described him as a hockey player, dancer and fisherman. 

The fire department said Polson's death marks the first member to die in a fire in 20 years.  

The BackStoppers organization that helps the families of first responders said it was assisting the Polson family. 

For more information and to donate to The BackStoppers, click here.


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