BALA CYNWYD, Pennsylvania — Family and friends gathered to honor the life of a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty on the Schuylkill Expressway last year.
Thomas Royds, 48, a firefighter with the Belmont Hills Fire Company, was responding to an emergency call when he was killed back on July 24, 2021.
Royds served with the Lower Merion Fire Department in Montgomery County since 1988. He recently split his time between three fire companies.
On Wednesday afternoon, loved ones gathered at Union Fire Association to honor his life of service.
“It’s like losing a brother, it really is,” said David Staffieri, deputy fire chief with the Union Fire Association. “He emulated the word firefighter, his work ethic, his comradery with all the guys.”
Royds was a lieutenant with the Union Fire Association. On Wednesday, he was posthumously promoted to the rank of captain by James Hornung, chief fire officer with Union Fire Association.
“He was like one of my kids, seeing him grow up here,” said Hornung.
A bronze plaque was placed prominently in front of the Union Fire Association to honor his memory.
“It’s something you never forget,” said Acting Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Chas McGarvey.The Schuylkill Expressway, from mile marker 334.5 to mile marker 335.5 in Lower Merion Township, will be named the “Firefighter Thomas Royds Memorial Highway” sometime in September.
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Lower Merion, Clifton Heights firefighter remembered one year after his line of duty death
LOWER MERION — Area firefighters turned out Wednesday evening to dedicate a plaque and remember Capt. Thomas Royds, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident on the Schuylkill Expressway in July of 2021.
Royds, of Springfield, was a career and volunteer firefighter for over 30 years, serving the Lower Merion community at the Union Fire Association and the Belmont Hills Fire Company as well as seven years as a volunteer in Clifton Heights.
In his last act, Royds pushed two fellow firefighters away from the oncoming car that killed him.
“The fire service was in every fiber of Tom,” Union Fire Chief James Hornung said. “When he started at age 18 he was pretty rough around the edges, he grew into a competent leader, and mentor wherever he could. Confident in himself he still made mistakes but was always ready to admit to the mistakes and he made the changes necessary to better himself which made everyone around him better.”
Hornung said Royds never stood still around the station and was always working to improve the station and his fire-fighting abilities.
“Here at the station, Tom is remembered with these tokens of gratitude for his sacrifice,” Hornung said before unveiling the memorial plaque in front of their station.
A bill in the Pennsylvania State House renames a section of the expressway the Thomas Royds Memorial Highway Union Fire Chief James Hornung said.
The two fellow firefighters who were also stuck on the expressway that night spoke in appreciation.
Belmont Hills Firefighter Alex Fischer said he is reminded every day about Royds, what they went through that night and his memory that helped him push to recover from his traumatic injuries.
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