Sycamore firefighter dies days after escort home

Community mourns Bradley Belanger, remembers 23-year first responder as ‘valiant firefighter,’ ‘brother’

Sycamore firefighter Brad Belanger died Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, after a battle with esophageal cancer, the Sycamore Fire Department announced.

SYCAMORE – Longtime Sycamore firefighter Bradley Belanger died Friday, the Sycamore Fire Department announced, just days after he was escorted home alongside supporters, loved ones and fellow first responders after a hospital stay from illness.

The department announced Belanger’s death at 8 p.m. Friday via a social media post on the department’s Facebook page. Belanger worked with the Sycamore department for more than two decades.

“It is with heavy hearts and profound sorrow that we announce the passing of one of our own, a valiant firefighter who fought not only to protect those in danger, but also battled courageously against cancer,” the post read. “Today, we gather as a community to remember and honor the life of firefighter / paramedic Bradley Belanger, who selflessly devoted his time and energy to safeguarding our community for the last 23 years.”

Belanger, born in 1978, had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer prior to his death. Elected to serve his first term as a Republican representing District 1 on the DeKalb County Board in November 2022, Belanger resigned in January amid his diagnosis.

The 44-year-old Belanger remarked to the Daily Chronicle in January that he was touched by the “amazing” outpouring of support from the Sycamore community he’d received since talking about his diagnosis.

That support was on display earlier this week when a social media callout was posted by Sycamore fire officials Monday alerting the community to Belanger’s return from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. Area first responders briefly shut down roads in DuPage, Kane and DeKalb counties to help show community support and provide Belanger and his family with a safe journey to his Sycamore home.

On Friday, the fire department called on the community to remember Belanger’s legacy.

“As we mourn the loss of a beloved firefighter, let us remember the moments of bravery, the sacrifices made and the impact Brad had on the Sycamore community. Brad’s legacy will forever be etched within our fire department’s history,” fire officials wrote.

Tributes to Belanger began cropping up across social media Friday night, as word of the firefighter’s death days before the Christmas holiday spread.

Sycamore Firefighters Local 3046 union remembered Belanger as “a brother in our family,” in a Facebook post.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s office announced it was “profoundly saddened to hear” of Belanger’s death. “He was truly a great man and public servant,” the sheriff’s office’s social post read.

The DeKalb County Republican Party’s Facebook page posted that “Brad will be truly missed.”

Sycamore police briefly shut down a portion of Illinois Route 64 in downtown Sycamore on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, to help welcome a motorcade for longtime Sycamore firefighter Brad Belanger's return home from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.

Details of a memorial service for Belanger are pending, according to the Sycamore Fire Department.

The department issued its support for Belanger’s family and loved ones, calling on the community to unite and comfort those in mourning.

“May he rest in eternal peace, surrounded by the gratitude of a community forever indebted to his courage and sacrifice,” Sycamore fire officials wrote.

This is a developing story which could be updated.

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