PLANO, Texas — The Thursday morning death of a firefighter is being categorized as Plano Fire-Rescue's first cancer-related line of duty death, the department said Thursday.
Plano Fire-Rescue driver engineer Gerald Don "Goon" Becker died Thursday morning at the Baylor Scott & White T. Boone Pickens Cancer Hospital in Dallas after a long, hard-fought battle with occupation-related cancer, Plano Fire-Rescue said.
Becker was 62.
His cancer was presumed to have been directly related to his work as a firefighter and is covered by the Firefighter Registry Cancer Act signed into law in July 2018, Plano Fire-Rescue said. His cancer started as melanoma, and eventually metastasized to his brain and liver, according to the department.
In Texas, some firefighters are also protected under Senate Bill 2551, which became state law in June 2019. The department's only other line of duty death was in the early 1950s when a firefighter died in a fire, Plano Fire-Rescue said.
Becker grew up in Mesquite and began his firefighting career in August 1983 at Plano Fire-Rescue. He remained with the department for 37 years and was still on the roster when he died Thursday.
Becker eventually rose to the role of drive engineer in 1999 and was involved in training other members of the department, a news statement from Plano Fire-Rescue said.
He was lovingly known as "Goon" to his fellow firefighters and would work at several fire stations in Plano. At the time of his death, he was on the roster for Plano's Fire Station 3.
Becker is survived by his wife, Marian, two adult sons and two adult stepdaughters.
Information on services will be shared as soon as arrangements are made, Plano Fire-Rescue said.
WFAA's Tiffany Liou contributed to this report.