Volunteer Firefighter International

Support Pours in for Fire Chief Battling Cancer and COVID

The combination department chief was put on a ventilator and sedated last week as he battles both late-stage cancer and COVID-19

By Brooke Hasch, WHAS11

his Thanksgiving will be especially hard for the Zoneton Fire Protection District, whose chief is in the fight of his life, battling both COVID-19 and cancer.

“It happened so quick,” Capt. Steven Corbin with Zoneton Fire said.

It was late September when Chief Rob Orkies told his crew the news.

“He sent out a message and told all the members who could, to come to the fire house, that he had something to say. I don’t think there was one person in that room who thought it would be cancer,” said Corbin, who lost his own father to cancer just a month before.

After more than 30 years of battling fires in and around Zoneton, this would prove to be Orkies’ most challenging fight. Doctors found the late stage cancer in his neck and lymph nodes.

A week into his treatments, he tested positive for COVID-19 and has been on a ventilator, and sedated since Saturday, Nov. 21.

Just days before, Orkies was determined to come home and be an advocate for the state’s mask mandate.

“The last message that Chief wrote back was asking if I’d reach out to the governor for some ‘Mask Up Kentucky’ masks. He wanted one when he got out,” Corbin said.

Read the full story here.

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