A fire captain in Clallam County, Washington, was discovered dead Thursday morning only hours after he had returned from a call.
Charles “Chad” Cate, 46, was found deceased in his bunk bed by fellow firefighters at the station at around 7:00 a.m., Callam County Fire District 3 said in a press release. He was last seen at around 2:20 a.m. that same morning after returning to the station from a fire alarm activation at a commercial building.
Cate then returned to the site of an earlier house fire in the Dungeness neighborhood in Sequim, where he texted the captain at around 4:00 a.m. to tell him all was good at the scene, according to the U.S. Fire administration.
“His passing was completely unexpected and has stunned his family, friends and brothers and sisters of the IAFF 2933 and his entire Clallam County Fire District 3 family,” a local firefighter union stated in a Facebook post paying tribute to Cate.
The Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the firefighter’s death, which is the protocol for any state employee who dies or is injured on the job, the Peninsula Daily News reported.
“[Cate] was raised in the area and graduated from Sequim High School where he has continued to be involved as the Wrestling Coach. He was hired by the District in 1997 as a firefighter/paramedic and promoted to the rank of captain in 2020,” the county fire department said in a statement.
#ClallamCounty: Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Firefighter Chad Cate of Clallam County Fire 3 who sadly passed away this morning.
Thank you for being a friend to our agency and for your commitment to public safety it will not be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/HrYgRoZxIm
— Trooper Katherine Weatherwax (@wspd8pio) January 12, 2023
The IAFF 2993 union and the fire department are working with Cate’s family to organize his funeral in the coming days.
The cause of the fire captain’s death is unknown. An autopsy occurred later on Thursday, according to the Daily News.
Cate leaves behind a wife, his two-year-old son, and two adult children.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.