Brian H. Ritchie
- City of Weirton Fire Department
- West Virginia
- Age: 50
- Year of Death: 2021
Brian was born in Steubenville, Ohio, on June 26, 1970. In 1988, after graduating high school from Steubenville Big Red, Brian enlisted in the United States Air Force and served his country in Iraq during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After returning in 1992, Brian made Follansbee, West Virginia, his home and began working as a federal prison guard at the FCI Elkton, a federal prison in Columbiana County, Ohio.
When Brian was 14, he joined Brilliant Volunteer Fire Department as a junior firefighter. At age 21 and fresh out of the Air Force, Brian decided to join Hooverson Heights Volunteer Fire Department. He impacted many people’s lives, including the citizens he served, his friends and family, and especially his son, Caleb Ritchie. Brian was a teacher and a leader in the fire service and respected throughout the fire community. Brian served with HHVFD for 29 years, wearing many hats throughout the years, including assistant chief.
In 2005, Brian decided to take the firefighter civil service test for the City of Weirton Fire Department. In 2008, Brian was offered the job of full-time career firefighter for the City of Weirton. In 2017, Brian was promoted to lieutenant in the City of Weirton Fire Department, where he took the role of teaching the young guys through his knowledge and experience very seriously. He loved sharing stories and training tips with others, knowing that one day they might be able to share it with new trainees.
In 2014, Brian’s wife, Karen, passed away. He was now a single dad with a full-time job who had a 10-year-old boy to raise. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Caleb became a firefighter at Hooverson Heights Volunteer Fire Department, where he continues to volunteer while working a part-time job as a 911 dispatcher and attending WVNCC full-time.
In 2014, Brian met Sierra Dunlevy, whom he treasured and was with for seven years before his passing. Sierra quickly became an important role model in Caleb’s life as a mother hen, looking out for him and taking care of him as he grew into a young man. In December of 2020, Brian and his crew at WFD found out that they had contracted COVID-19 while they were on duty. As days went by, Brian’s health deteriorated, which sent him to the hospital. On February 2, 2021, Lieutenant Brian H. Ritchie lost his life to COVID-19 in the line of duty.
Lt. Ritchie will be forever remembered for his passion to help others, passing down his knowledge, sayings, and love for the fire service and the communities he served.