Family of fallen Glendale firefighter pushes for change

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GLENDALE, Ky. (WKYT) - In the small community of Glendale, flags are flying at half staff in honor of a fallen firefighter. And businesses are displaying pictures of a young man while the volunteer fire department is draped in black.

Lt. Jonathan French, 25, was killed Wednesday morning. He was one of the first to respond to a vehicle fire along I-65 when he was hit and killed by a semi truck.

Glendale's fire chief and French's uncle, Richard Peters, held a news conference Tuesday to thank the community for their support.

"Keep praying for the family. Keep praying for the fire department," said Peters.

The station's two trucks were damaged in the crash and are out of commission, but Peters said his department has made the decision to take two weeks off. He said when his men and women do get back on the truck it will be to honor his nephew.

"We kind of feel like that's what Jonathan would want us to do," said Peters. "He doesn't want us sitting around and watching someone else take care of what he loved to do."

Peters said Tuesday he was grateful for the support, including hundreds of firefighters who came from as far away as California to give his nephew a proper sendoff.

"It was very humbling, and it has touched every one of us," said Peters. "It's images none of us will ever forget."

But Peters wants those firefighters and other first responders protected. With an online push called Shut It Down on Facebook, he's calling for interstate highways to be shut down during any type of emergency for any length of time.

"Until Wednesday morning, no one even knew the name Jonathan French. Now, he is well-known across the nation, and hopefully, his name will be the one that makes a difference," said Peters.

The Glendale Fire Department had just one lieutenant, Jonathan French. The chief said the department will retire French's number and will likely never name another lieutenant.

For now, until the men and women at Glendale get back to work, neighboring fire departments are handling their calls.

French's mother Lisa, also a volunteer firefighter, was injured Wednesday morning. She has been released from the hospital but is scheduled to undergo several more surgeries on her right leg in the coming days.

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