‘An incredible firefighter:’ First responder dies after responding to a fire scene

A Ballardsville firefighter died on Saturday afternoon after responding to a structure fire and suffering a medical emergency.

Sgt. Tom Petschke Jr., 53, was making a mutual-aid call and was at the scene of the fire when he collapsed, according to social media posts from local fire departments. He was transported to a local hospital where he later died.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Ballardsville, which is located in Oldham County, “suffered an immeasurable loss” with his passing, according to a Facebook post made by the South Oldham Fire Department.

“Tom was known by many in the county, and even went through recruit school with many of our members, and through that, created a lifelong bond shared amongst all departments in the county,” the post read. “Tom was an incredible firefighter, and an even greater human being.”

The Ballardsville Fire and Rescue said Petschke served for a decade in the community, and his loss left profound sadness within the department.

“Sgt. Petschke was an exceptional firefighter and a cherished member of our department,” the post said. “His dedication, courage and unwavering commitment to public safety were an inspiration to all who had the privilege of working alongside him.”

Gov. Andy Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron also took to social media to express their condolences.

“Kentucky, please join Britainy and me in praying for the family, friends and fellow firefighters of Thomas Petschke Jr. — a Ballardsville firefighter who died Saturday after suffering a medical emergency while responding to a fire. Thomas was a hero who will be missed,” Beshear posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Cameron, who grew up in Oldham County, said he and his wife, Makenze, were saddened about the passing and offered thoughts and prayers.

“Makenze and I are saddened to learn of Ballardsville firefighter Thomas Petschke Jr.’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, fellow first responders, and all of Ballardsville during this terribly difficult time,” he wrote.