Three public safety officials who served Frederick County and died in the line of duty were honored last week for their sacrifice.

Fallen Heroes Day is recognized in Maryland as a day to remember those in law enforcement and the fire service who are gone, but not forgotten.

Battalion Chiefs Joshua D. Laird and Christopher D. Morlan of the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services and Frederick Police Department Officer Gregory M. Santangelo were honored on May 6 at the 37th annual ceremony in Timonium. They were among 15 people recognized.

“We call them heroes, but to them, they were simply doing their jobs — a job where they placed themselves in harm’s way every day and paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect all of us,” Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford said at the ceremony, which was live streamed on Facebook.

Laird, 46, died Aug. 11, 2021, from injuries he sustained battling a two-alarm house fire in Ijamsville after the building was struck by lightning. Laird fell through the first floor to the basement and was flown to a hospital for medical care. He died at the hospital.

Laird served 21 years in the Frederick County fire service. His accomplishments included a silver medal of bravery for saving a man’s life in a rescue, The News-Post has reported. When the pandemic struck, Laird became part of the fire department’s COVID-19 incident management team.

At home in Pennsylvania, he served on the Fairfield Area School Board and was active in the Adams County Democratic Committee.

Morlan, 46, died from complications of COVID-19 on Dec. 23, 2021, according to the fire department. He devoted 23 years to the fire service, guest speaker Mary Beth Marsden said the ceremony.

Morlan’s accolades included a gold medal of valor, two lifesaving awards and several unit citations, she said. He was a baseball and basketball coach, a history buff and artist, Marsden said.

For Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe, Fallen Heroes Day shows that the community has not forgotten.

“It’s very important that the community continue to remember both BC Morlan and BC Laird and their sacrifice for the community’s welfare,” Coe said in an interview.

Santangelo, 50, also died from from COVID-19 complications on Dec. 28, 2021.

Santangelo’s law enforcement career spanned 21 years, Marsden said, and included 13 years at the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office before he came to FPD. He was the lead instructor at the police academy for several classes and trained officers in numerous agencies, according to FPD.

Earlier in life, Santangelo served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Gulf War, Marsden said. He held a degree in criminal science.

FPD Chief Jason Lando said Fallen Heroes Day brings to mind not only the officers the department lost this year, but those in past years.

“This week is a somber, but important one for law enforcement officers around the world, as we remember our brothers and sisters who were taken from us far too soon,” Lando wrote in an email. “The Frederick Police Department continues to mourn the loss of Officers Mark Bremer, Matt Fast, Greg Santangelo, and Lt. Stew Alcorn. Each of these heroes left a lasting legacy on our agency and our profession and we will never forget them.”

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller

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