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Firefighter's HIV-Related Death Happened in Line of Duty

Firefighter's HIV-Related Death Happened in Line of Duty


A firefighter who passed away four years ago after contracting HIV on the job is just now being recognized as having died in the line of duty.

At a ceremony on Sunday, former colleagues of Seattle-area firefighter Doug Waller presented his widow, Sharon, and their two sons with a medallion from the International Association of Firefighters' Fallen Firefighter Memorial. A plaque will hang in South King Fire and Rescue's Station 65 in Auburn, Wash., in his honor.

Recognition of Waller as an on-the-job casualty took so long because the state of Washington required proof that he contracted HIV while performing his duties. Waller apparently became infected with the virus after being stuck by a needle on a medical call.

An HIV test performed immediately after the incident came up negative, and he retired from the department in 2000. He didn't test positive for HIV until 2006, two months before he died.

His diagnosis, coming several years after the injury, it was outside a 60-month window that would have allowed his death to be automatically recognized as in the line of duty.

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