Captain Michael Louis Palumbo began his fire service career in 1991. Captain Palumbo started as a part-time firefighter for his hometown of Willowick, Ohio. A year later, he was appointed to the Beachwood Fire Department as a career firefighter. Michael participated in numerous roles for the departments including the HAZMAT team, SWAT Medic, Honor Guard, and EMS Officer. Michael always took the time to mentor new members of the department as well as offer words of wisdom for all. He truly loved his job and was great at it. Michael was a devoted husband and loving father to five children. His children were his life and even with the challenges with the schedule in the fire service Michael always found time to be present for them. Being a father is what defined Michael and allowed him to excel as a fire officer. Michael served as a Captain at both his part-time department of Willowick and career department of Beachwood. Around the station and at home, Michael was known for his sense of humor, infectious smile and knowledge of everything fire service related. Michael had a calm and effective command presence which earned him respect by all.
While on a hike with his wife in August 2016, Michael began experiencing stroke-like symptoms. After being evaluated at a local hospital Michaels condition appeared worse and was life-flighted to the Cleveland Clinic. It was soon determined Michael had a tumor in his brain and would need surgery. Following the surgery, Michael was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, Glioblastoma. While undergoing intense radiation, chemotherapy, and two additional surgeries his condition continued to worsen. Captain Palumbo bravely fought his occupational cancer diagnosis for nearly two years. During his fight, Captain Palumbo championed for a law that would allow firefighters to file workers’ compensation claims for job-related cancers. Captain Palumbo was the inspiration behind Ohio’s Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act, which Gov. John Kasich signed into law Jan. 4. Captain Palumbo was present and surrounded by family when the governor signed the bill into law. The legislation was aimed at providing workers’ compensation coverage for firefighters who develop cancer as a direct result of their job.
Captain Palumbo lost his battle to cancer on May 24, 2017 at 49 years of age. He leaves behind better firefighters and departments for having him and he will truly be missed.