First responders from all over the D.C. region lined up outside MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Northwest Thursday night to say goodbye to a firefighter who died in the line of duty in a blaze in Frederick County, Maryland.
The body of Frederick County Capt. Joshua Laird’s body was escorted by members of law enforcement to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Earlier in the day, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lowered the U.S. and state flags to honor Laird for “bravely responding to a fire,” and called him one of the state’s “true heroes.”
“On behalf of all Marylanders, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, his fellow firefighters, and to all those who loved him,” Hogan said in a statement Thursday.
On Friday, Laird was posthumously promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief by the Frederick County Fire Department.
“On behalf of the Frederick County Executive and Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services, it is our honor to be able to bestow the rank of Battalion Chief to Josh,” Fire Chief Tom Coe said. “Joshua epitomized the definition of a qualified leader and team player and this promotion is well-deserved.”
Laird, 46, was one of several firefighters from Station 25 of the Green Valley Fire Department who responded to a house fire in the 9500 block of Ball Road in Ijamsville at 4:48 p.m. Wednesday that was possibly sparked by lightning.
When members of Engine 251 arrived at the two-story house, flames were already showing, and crews requested a rapid intervention dispatch and a tanker task force to help put out the fire, which had been upgraded to a two-alarm blaze.
Shortly after entering the home, Laird fell through the first floor into the basement and a mayday call went out, officials said.
Rescuers located Laird and removed the injured firefighter. Paramedics performed advanced life support, Frederick County Division of Fire & Rescue Services Battalion Chief Tom Coe said in a news conference Wednesday night.
Laird was flown to Medstar hospital, and he died from his injuries.
Laird is survived by his wife and two daughters and is also being remembered as a friend and mentor, Coe said. After starting his career at Fairfield, Pennsylvania, he joined Frederick county Division of Fire and Rescue Services in 2000.
“The void he leaves behind will never be filled,” Coe said.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner said she was heartbroken over Laird’s death and praised his heroism in a statement released Wednesday night.
“We often take for granted the bravery our firefighters show every day,” she said. “Tonight, sadly, we are reminded of how dangerous the job really is. Josh is a hero.”
Words cannot describe my heartbreak over Capt. Josh Laird’s tragic death. He touched many lives during his long career with Frederick County. We often take for granted the bravery our firefighters show every day. Tonight, sadly, we are reminded of how dangerous the job really is.
— County Exec Gardner (@JanGardnerExec) August 12, 2021
As the investigation proceeds, fire officials said they will share more details.
WTOP’s Kyle Cooper contributed to this report.