The Northwest Fire District lost its 18-year veteran public information officer to breast cancer this past weekend.
Katy Heiden, who joined the fire district in 1994, served the district as its public information officer since she began working with the district.
Heiden had recently been trimming some trees when she hit her chest with the handle of a tree trimmer. She then went to the doctor because of some soreness and bruising. That is when she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer.
Last Monday, Captain Adam Goldberg, who is a Northwest Fire spokesman and has been with the district since 1992, sent out a notice to local media along with local police and fire officials letting them know that Heiden would be on medical leave.
“I wanted to take a second of your time to let you know that my colleague, Katy Heiden, will be out for an extended period of time on a medical leave.
“The Northwest Fire District has rallied behind her in support of her on her road to recovery.”
Sunday, Goldberg sent out another email letting people know that she passed away with her family and friends at her side.
Katy was 54 years old.
Monday morning, Goldberg spoke about Heiden and how over the weekend she had referred to him as her “work husband” seeing how close and often they worked together.
As the public information officer, Heiden’s duties were to work closely with the media in Tucson, where she got to know quite a few journalists and television personalities in the area.
“There has been just a ton of outpouring from the editors at the Daily Star, all the TV media, the print media – everyone who had worked with her – said they will be printing all of the emails she had sent them. That is certainly appreciated,” Goldberg said.
“We now have confirmation of what we all knew and how well she was respected in her profession through her professional contacts and her personal contacts.”
Goldberg said Heiden took her camera wherever she went. She was then able to capture a lot of the fire district and firefighters at social events, emergency calls, and public education events.
“There are some truly moving pictures that really portray what the fire service does and why firefighters do what they do.”
He remembers her always coming to work with a big smile and always truly enjoying her job.
“It has been a sincere honor and distinct pleasure to know Katy,” Fire Chief Jeff Piechura said in a release. “She made a difference certainly in my life, but most certainly in the lives of those who knew her, the members of the fire district, and the countless lives she touched in her work.”
Private funeral arrangements will be held for the family at a later date.