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Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and Kenny Lacayo remembered at memorial service

Thousands attended a memorial service for fallen Baltimore City Fire Department firefighters Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and Kenny Lacayo on Wednesday.
Baltimore Fire/Twitter
Thousands attended a memorial service for fallen Baltimore City Fire Department firefighters Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and Kenny Lacayo on Wednesday.

Three Baltimore City firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty were honored at a memorial service at the Baltimore Convention Center this morning.

Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and firefighter Kenny Lacayo died last month after a burning vacant home they were in partially collapsed.

On the way to that fire, the three were told that someone was trapped inside the building, said Edward Kelly, the president of the International Association of Firefighters.

“They were told that somebody, some resident of West Baltimore, that they had never met was in danger of dying and they decided that somebody was worth dying for,” he said.

“This tragedy compounds what most firefighters have felt for a long time: frustration, discouragement and exhaustion,” said Richard Langford, president of the Baltimore City Firefighters Union IAFF Local 734.

For the first time in its 225 year history, the entire Baltimore City Fire Department was out of service. The Maryland Department of Emergency Management arranged for other firefighters from all corners of the state and Washington DC to fill in for their city peers so that every BCFD member could attend the memorial service.

They were joined by thousands of other firefighters from as far away as France and Canada. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said that President Joe Biden called to offer his condolences.

“Baltimore, as a city, is grieving the loss of the lives of three of the bravest among us, those who every day decide to get up and not just face the danger, but run headfirst into danger to save strangers,” Scott said.

To lose a single member of BCDF is unthinkable – but to lose three is almost unbearable, said Fire Chief Niles Ford.

“I believe that if Paul, Kelsey and Kenny could speak to us, they would say that they have lived a committed life of service. I believe they’d say they loved people and they served humanity,” he said. “I think they could emphatically say that their lives were not in vain.”

Josh Fannon, president of the Baltimore City Firefighters Union IAFF Local 964, spoke on behalf of the family of Lt. Butrim. His friend called him an avid Red Sox fan and gym rat who loved pranking his team.

“He had this ability to deliver a joke and a quick, dry way with a straight face and wait until you picked up on it. Once he saw you smiling, he would burst out laughing,” he said.

Butrim earned an Exemplary Performance Award in 2015 for saving an unconscious young child from an apartment fire, performing CPR until he could get her to safety. He was born to be a father, Fanon said. He loved camping with his son, Nolan, who died three years ago at the age of two. Butrim is survived by his wife, Rachel.

Lt. Kelsey Sadler’s sister Lacey Marino said she was all gas, no brakes – that she was a creative force, up for any and all challenges.

“That was our girl: strong words, strong feelings and very strong hugs. She was the best hugger. Hugs so strong, you felt like she would bruise you,” she said.

Family – which included her coworkers – was Sadler’s purpose, her sister said, calling her the cool aunt, the rock of engine 14 and a fiercely devoted wife to Brandon and stepmom to Mila.

“Her love for Brandon extended and encompassed her beautiful stepdaughter, Mila. She loves Mila just like she would her own. They share a sassy, independent, strong attitude,” Marino said.

Firefighter Kenny Lacayo was engaged to Clara Fenelon at the time of his death. She called him a gentle soul who never let her open a door and a protector of those he loved.

“Our therapist asked what love meant to the two of us. I remember Kenyon and I looking at each other and saying, ‘I would die for you.’ God knows I meant it. I know he did, too,” she recalled.

Lacayo’s sister Kattia Elizabeth Olivas-King said his death should inspire everyone to live as he did – with great intensity, kindness and fearlessness.

“What purpose do we find in a tragedy like this? The passing of not one, but three young lives cut short,” she said. “It's simple. We find the reminder that life, with its pain and obstacles, is a gift.”

After the remembrances was the firefighter’s last alarm – a tradition for those who have died in the lines of duty. In the past, firefighters were summoned to a blaze by a bell. And when the fire was out, the bell was again rung to signal the completion of the call.

“Their task completed, their duties well done, we will once again sound their last alarm,” said former Baltimore City Fire Commissioner Stuart Nathan.

A total of nine clear, bright rings echoed throughout the Convention Center.

After the ceremony, the families of Butrim, Sadler and Lacayo walked alongside their caskets, down Conway St., flanked by a sea of blue-uniformed fire personnel.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.