IFD Chief Sanford talks retirement, ALS, proudest moment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Brian Sanford is stepping down as the Indianapolis Fire Department’s Fire Chief.

On Thursday, he spoke with 24-Hour News 8 for the first time about his struggle with ALS.

Sanford was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease back in June of 2011. The 57-year-old says he’s doing well, but is starting to experience symptoms like limited movement in his left hand and left leg. His brother is also battling ALS.

Story | IFD chief to retire, take new post

Thursday afternoon, 24-Hour News 8 spoke with Sanford at his office to talk about how he’s doing.

“It’s tough, you know, it is what it is,” Sanford said. “Stays in the back of your mind. I certainly–through seeing his progression and understanding the disease–I know where it’s headed and it takes different courses. Some people it affects and moves very rapidly. Life expectancy is not real long in most ALS cases, because many times it gets to the respiratory system first, so I am on a, what’s for ALS is considered a slow course. So I know I’ve noticed some declines certainly and it is starting to have a cumulative effects on me, but overall I am fortunate that it’s moving slow.”

Sanford has been chief since 2008. He will stay on until a replacement is found.

Despite his illness, Sanford plans to become Chief of Staff to Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

He said his proudest accomplishment was helping to pull everyone together when five of the city’s township fire departments merged with IFD.

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