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84-year-old firefighter dies after responding to call

Herold Cordova started working with the Manassa Fire Department when he was 18 years old. He dedicated his life to protecting others and saving lives.

MANASSA, Colo. — An 84-year-old firefighter from Manassa lost his life to a heart attack after responding to a call on Sunday.

Herold Cordova worked with the Manassa Fire Department since he was 18 years old. He often worked alongside fire departments from neighboring departments because mutual aid is frequently called. On Sunday, Cordova responded to a call from the Romeo Fire Department, an agency he worked alongside often.

On Sunday at 2:17 pm, Cordova answered a call for a controlled burn that took place on Saturday but then spread to firewood on Sunday. The flames then began moving toward houses, resulting in roughly 20 acres burning. 

Credit: Family

Cordova left early, telling his fellow firefighters he wasn’t feeling well. Minutes later, he suffered a heart attack. He was president of the Conejos County Fire Board. He passed away following 65 years of volunteer service with the department. 

"That longevity is pretty impressive to be able to do that for that long," said Denny Fringer, a fellow firefighter and secretary of the Conejos County Fire Board. 

Fringer said he looked up to Cordova as a child, when his father would take him to the department where Cordova often volunteered and offered his time. 

"Seeing that kind of sparked an interest in me as far as joining on, and community service and being someone who gives back to the community," said Fringer. "I think [Cordova] is a great example of what we should be doing as a community member, of being part of something that is bigger than yourself." 

A well-experienced mechanic, Cordova would often repair and maintain the fire trucks free of cost for the Manassa Fire Department. He would always check the fire trucks after calls. 

When he was younger, Cordova was involved in all aspects of the department and responding to calls. More recently, Cordova began working with the trucks, which was a less strenuous task. 

"When he had the capacity to help and the faculty to help, he helped and he didn’t shy away from it," Fringer said. 

Those who knew Cordova believe despite the tragedy and loss they are enduring, this was the way he would have wanted to. 

"For him to go out like that, it would have been what he wanted," said Fringer. 

A procession is planned for Friday at 10 a.m. from the church to where Cordova will be laid to rest.

Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on all public buildings from sunrise until sunset on Friday, May 6, 2022, in honor of Cordova.

RELATED: Volunteer fire departments lean on automatic aid agreements

RELATED: Colorado faces challenges around recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters



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