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Firefighter killed while battling St. Louis fire attended college in Springfield

Benjamin Polson/St. Louis Fire Dept.
Benjamin Polson/St. Louis Fire Dept.(KY3)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:06 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A firefighter killed while battling a house fire Thursday in St. Louis attended Missouri State University and Drury University.

Friends describe Benjamin Polson as a person always willing to help others. He followed in the footsteps of his dad to become a St. Louis firefighter.

“Definitely one of those guys where I knew he was going to do something to want to make an impact in St. Louis,” said Kevin Walsh, a history teacher at St. John Vianney High School where Polson attended.

Polson graduated in 2007 and then attended Missouri State University. He received his MBA at Drury University before joining the St. Louis Fire Department in November 2019. His father is a retired STLFD captain.

“This kind of event weighs tremendously on the entire department,” said St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

Jenkerson got emotional as he explained the last moments of Polson’s life when he responded with Engine House 13 to a vacant house fire on the 5900 block of Cote Brillante in North St. Louis Thursday. The initial 911 call indicated there may be victims inside.

“Any time you have a building like this, the fire department is trying to make sure no one’s inside. We want to save lives,” said Jenkerson

The vacant home had previous problems with squatters.

Fire crews battled the flames and decided to turn back when the flames got too intense. But as they were leaving, the building’s roof and top story collapsed, burying Polson. He died at the scene. A spokesperson for STLFD says two other firefighters were injured but have since been released from the hospital.

“I know our school community will rally around his family and St. Louis will honor him as a hero because that’s what he is,” said Walsh.

Funeral arrangements are pending.  BackStoppers is assisting the family.

“This incident is a sobering reminder of the real dangers our first responders face every day as they fight to keep our communities safe,” said Chief Ron Battelle, executive director of The BackStoppers. “Losing any first responder is a heartbreak for each of us, but we will make sure they are never forgotten.”

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