PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida firefighter who is in the fight of his life was given a much-needed reason to smile.

Davie Fire Rescue Capt. Richard Hudson is in the hospital being treated for leukemia, but that didn’t stop friends, colleagues and loved ones from giving him a very special salute, Wednesday morning.

The piercing sound of a fire alarm is usually what firefighters hear to alert them of a call, but outside Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, the call was a celebration.

“Captain 291, Capt. Richie Hudson has completed his last tour of duty,” a dispatcher said to everyone in attendance.

Hudson watched from his hospital room as his colleagues celebrated his retirement from 29 years of fire service.

For many, it was an emotional occasion.

“The number one cause of line-of-duty death for firefighters unfortunately is cancer,” said Dr. Yehuda Deutsch, a hematologist-oncologist with Memorial Healthcare System.

Hudson was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019. He went into remission and went back to work educating firefighters on how to minimize their risk of cancer.

But months away from retirement, the cancer was back.

Firefighters are out there helping save people’s lives every day and are exposed to so many different things that, unfortunately, there are a lot of things out there that they’re exposed to that cause cancer,” said Deutsch.

Hudson’s daughter, Holly Hudson, donated her life-saving bone marrow.

“Everybody has a different story to tell about my dad,” she said, “and it’s an unfortunate situation which he’s retiring in, but it’s definitely amazing to see the outreach and spread of awareness for firefighter cancer and job-induced cancer from firefighters.”

“It’s an amazing day for us to see him come to the window, to see his smile,” said Davie Fire Rescue Asst. Chief Daniel Moran. “To really feel that love and support from us is so important, so it was a great day for everybody.”

“I know he’s crying up there,” said Doame Hudson, the firefighter’s mother.

Hudson’s parents said their son is no doubt touched by all the love.

“People care about him so much, and it’s a blessing that he’s here today,” said his mother.

His wife, Gina Hudson, is also a retired firefighter. She said they’ve got big plans.

“We have an RV waiting on the side of the house. We’re ready to travel the country,” she said.

But before they do that, Hudson had one final thing to say to his crew.

“I love you guys. Now get back to work,” he said.

Hudson’s wife said they hope to hit the road in a few weeks.

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