Former IFD Chief Brian Sanford dies following battle with ALS

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former IFD Chief Brian L. Sanford died Monday at the age of 59 following a years-long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Sanford served as a firefighter in Indianapolis for 32 years He served as chief of the Indianapolis Fire Department from 2008-2014.

Doctors diagnosed Sanford with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2011.

Although he was impacted physically by the disease, Sanford maintained a positive outlook.

"My left hand doesn't work how it used to. My left leg is a little affected. The right hand is getting a little affected … but, you know, I've been blessed," Sanford told RTV6 in 2014. "I'll continue to stay positive and work through it."

In August of that year, IFD Chief Ernest Malone led an ice bucket challenge in Sanford's honor at Station 7.

MORE | 'Ice bucket challenge' persona for former IFD chief

Malone released a statement Monday following Sanford's passing.

“Brian was an excellent fire chief, but he was an even better man,'" Malone said. "The relationships he forged and the people he touched throughout his time in the fire service will forever be remembered as he continues to watch over us each and every day.  All of us are better for knowing him – I know I am.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett also released a statement Monday.

“Today, we join the Indianapolis Fire Department as they mourn one of their organization’s great leaders," Hogsett said. "Brian Sanford was a remarkable chief, a dedicated public servant, and a mentor to so many in the department. His leadership and presence will be missed, but his legacy will live on through the work of the men and women of IFD. Together, all of us in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana, keep his wife Diane, his children, and grandchildren in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.” 

Sanford is survived by his wife of 39 years, Diane, and sons Ryan, Mike and Mark. He also leaves behind eight grandchildren. 

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