I had the privilege today to be in the company of over a hundred others paying respect to a friend of many years who lost his battle with a debilitating illness. Brad Hytoff, an 18-year veteran with the Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Protection District was just 41 years old.
I met Brad over 20 years ago … he was a fire buff who loved the fire service and longed to make it his life. I saw him at various fire scenes … we both had cameras in hand (though mine was somewhat larger). I remember arriving at a house fire in Deerfield in June of 1989, and Brad ran to me saying ‘finally someone’s here who can really take some pictures’ … he was all adrenalin.
Later, fresh out of college … he visited me so that I’d buy his Minitor pager and turnout gear. He’d achieved his dream, he’d been hired by the Deerfield-Bannockburn FPD, and told me he’d never need these again, because he’d have everything from the department from that time forward.
We saw each other at fire scenes or occasionally talked about trucks.
He was adamant about maintaining his department’s history, and insisted that I supply photos covering many years to decorate the fire station.
Brad was the acting officer for his company at a 4-Alarm in Zion two years ago, and wanted a photo with his brothers from Deerfield.
Rest in peace my friend, you will be missed.