By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13)  — Sacramento Firefighter Tamara Thacher was described as tough, candid and caring during her 31 years of service with the department.

She served the department proudly in many facets from helping the community to helping her colleagues deal with personal issues.

“There was always a smile on her face. She was always excited to be at work,” Captain Keith Wade said. “And she always served the community with just a passion.”

Long before Wade became a captain and a spokesperson for the department, Thacher was one of his training officers at the fire academy. He told CBS13 he’ll never forget the time she shared words of wisdom to him and others during boot camp.

“She was kind of giving us the down and dirty of what to expect going in as a probationary firefighter,” Wade said. “And, I always thought when I looked back that pretty cool of her.”

The veteran firefighter was one of only a few women in the department.

Wade told CBS13 Thacher helped break the mold and pave the way for women to think about answering the call.

“Especially her later years, traveled, working in different programs up and down the west coast going to female firefighter camps letting the youth know that hey this is an option for you too,” Wade said.

She did from occupational cancer on Tuesday, a disease her fellow brothers and sisters hope never has to happen again with equipment and procedures.

Chief Gary Loesch said things like the extractors, a specialized washer that’s designed to rid firefighters’ uniforms of harmful materials, at fire station can help prevent this situation in the future. Something called clean cabs is also on the way.

“We would have all of our bunker gear and our SCBA’s, which is like those air tanks you see us wear, they would actually be in the cab of the firetrucks that you’re responding to incidents,” Loesch said. “Now clean cab means that have to be eliminated from being inside the cab.”

The department said that funeral arraignments for Thacher are still being worked out but hope to have something finalized by next week.

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