South King County firefighter honored for job-related HIV deathon October 24, 2012 @ 7:15 am (Updated: 7:58 am - 10/24/12 )
Waller's name was just added to The Memorial Pike Pole, which honors firefighters in Washington state who died in the line of duty.
On Monday, the honor guard from the Washington State Fallen Firefighters Memorial delivered the pole to Waller's former South King Fire and Rescue department.
Waller's wife Sharon tells KING 5 he wasn't wearing gloves on a rescue and was exposed to a patient with AIDS shortly before he retired.
"The only reason we remember the incident is because he made such a big deal about it," said Waller.
He tested negative at the time, but started getting sick six years later.
"He came to me and said something is wrong," said Waller. "I'm having trouble speaking, and I'm having trouble writing."
Doctors discovered he had HIV after running some tests. He died soon after.
"Doug's exposure at the time he had documented, but sat in a file unknown and kind of forgotten until this came up," Assistant Chief Gordie Olson told KING 5.
After several years, Waller's death was ultimately determined to be related to his service, prompting the honor. Along with the recognition, the honor qualifies his family for related benefits. It took a few years, but Waller's death was eventually accepted as a presumptive illness related to his service.
Battalion Chief Chuck Kahler says it's an honor that means the world to the entire department.
"Should something like this happen to any of us, we feel better that our families will be taken care of," he said.
KIRO Radio editor Karen Taylor contributed to this report
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