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The City Journals

In memoriam – UFA Engineer Chris Cage

Oct 05, 2020 02:14PM ● By Cassie Goff

“On Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters from across the country answered the call for help. Some paid the ultimate sacrifice…Chris (Cage) was one of those brave souls.” (Photo courtesy of the Unified Fire Authority)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

A longtime resident of and firefighter for Cottonwood Heights, Unified Fire Authority (UFA) Engineer Chris Cage called this city his home. After 31 years of service with UFA within the Salt Lake Valley, Cage passed away on Aug. 29. 

Cage worked out of Station 116 (8303 Wasatch Blvd.) and Station 113 (9523 Bypass Road) for the majority of his career. He retired in 2016 out of Station 113 in Snowbird with his primary concern being to take care of his wife. He spent the last four years caring for her. He was honored this past Sept. 11. Cage was an experienced engine driver, honor guard volunteer, father, grandfather and avid skier.

In the early 1990s, Cage began his career as a firefighter. Throughout his lifetime career, he devoted time to developing many skills, as he worked in Emergency Preparedness and on the Open Search and Rescue Team, among others. 

In 2001, Cage was part of the 61-person Utah Task Force One team who responded to the Sept. 11 attacks. With Retired Unified Fire Authority Chief Mike Ulibarri, the Utah firefighters spent days breathing in toxic fumes, including asbestos. 

Nineteen years later, 40 out of the 61 members of the Utah Task Force One team have had severe health problems including brain tumors, kidney cancer, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Cage was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer just a few months ago. Six weeks after diagnosis, he was put on hospice. He passed away a few days later on Aug. 29. His family, his wife and son, were with him in his final moments. 

“On Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters from across the country answered the call for help. Some paid the ultimate sacrifice…Chris (Cage) was one of those brave souls,” UFA said in an issued statement.  

The cancer Cage developed may potentially be from responding to the tragedy in 2001. UFA and his family are currently working with the World Health Center program to determine if the cancer was related to the work he did there. If so, they will provide additional assistance to his family. 

“We are working with the family to make sure their needs are met,” said Assistant Chief Riley Pilgrim. 

Cage is the second member to end his watch, after Salt Lake Fire Captain Robin Pilcher died of pancreatic cancer in 2016, likely related to responding to the World Trade Center attacks. 

“This reminds us just how far reaching the impact (from 9/11) is and how many responders are still struggling with the outcomes,” said Pilgrim. 

“Two thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven people were killed in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001…health officials estimate that number will soon be surpassed by the deaths attributed to Ground Zero-related illnesses,” reported Rick Aaron in his ABC4News report on Chris Cage on Sept. 11. 

The World Trade Center Health program offers care to those directly affected by the attacks in New York, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Through the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, the World Trade Center Health program is able to provide medical and mental health services to those who were present on Sept. 11, 2001. 

To watch the video tribute UFA has published for Chris Cage, visit their YouTube page at Unified Fire.