CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Cranston Fire Department is mourning the loss of Captain Greg Coleman, a 23-year veteran of the force, who recently lost his battle with occupational cancer.
Scott Robinson, president of Cranston Firefighters Local 1363, tells Eyewitness News Coleman died of leukemia Monday night. Robinson called Coleman a man of courage and compassion.
“We have a general secretary-treasurer for the international. His catchphrase is ‘Be safe, be you, be firefighters.’ I like to add, ‘Be Greg.’ I think we should all strive to be like him on this job,” Robinson said.
A few days prior to his death, Robinson said Coleman spoke with a class of recruits.
“He talked about the brotherhood and the sisterhood,” Robinson recalled. “He talked about fire service and about taking care of each other and watching out for each other. There wasn’t a better person to explain that to them.”
Robinson said Coleman was diagnosed around the same time another Cranston firefighter died of occupational cancer.
He said the city has taken good care of Coleman and his family, but they are having trouble on the state level.
At this time, Robinson said it is unknown what Coleman’s pension would be because they have to prove that the cancer came from a specific fire.
This is because state law does not contain a “conclusive presumption” that all cancer that affects firefighters is job-related.
“They died not knowing if their benefits were going to be continued,” Robinson explained. “They died not knowing if their families were going to be taken care of after they passed.”
This legislative session, Robinson said he’s working with state lawmakers to ensure all firefighters and their families are protected.
A wake will be held for Coleman at the Nardolillo Funeral Home Sunday. Firefighters are asked to arrive at 3:15 p.m. for a walkthrough, ahead of regular calling hours from 4-8 p.m.
His funeral will be held at the same location on Monday at 9 a.m., followed by a celebration of life at the V.F.W. post on Plainfield Pike.