Yakima firefighters honor late retired Captain Burton - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima firefighters honor late retired Captain Burton

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YAKIMA, WA - Fire officials in Yakima have come together to honor the death of retired Captain Robert Burton. Burton died last year on Christmas Day, and today was his funeral.

Dozens of firefighters joined Burton's family at Stone Church in Yakima to say their final goodbyes. 

Burton died on Christmas Day of last year due to complications from job-related cancer. He joined the Yakima Fire Department in 1984 and within his 27 years of service he held various titles such as lieutenant, captain and training captain. He retired in 2011, and during his years with the department is when he was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in 1997. Melanoma is unfortunately a type of cancer that is common within firefighters.

Burton fought cancer on and off since his 40's, and those who worked with him say he did not let it define him.

"In terms of 'did it change his thinking process,' 'did it change who he was in terms of a firefighter,' not in the least," said Jeremy Rodriguez, Yakima Fire Captain. "He was a firefighter to his heart and soul and that never changed; if anything, the cancer solidified that and made him feel even stronger towards that."

Captain Rodriguez said Burton used his cancer as a chance to educate others about it. He joined Code 3 For Cure, a non-profit organization focused on teaching firefighters about the dangers of the job.

Burton's son Cody followed the same path as his father and is currently a lieutenant with the Yakima Fire Department.