"He was a firefighter's fighter," said Paul Atkinson, acting chief of Toronto Fire Services.
"He was a very kind individual, and very highly thought of amongst his peers and his rank as district chief was well-earned and respected by the people around him."
Roach is considered to have died in the line of duty, following moves by the province to recognize more cancers as work-related risks for firefighters.
The government earlier this year extended health care protection for firefighters to include breast cancer, multiple myeloma and testicular cancer. Prostate, lung and skin cancer will be phased in by 2017, joining a list that also includes brain, bladder and kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and certain types of leukemia.
The firefighters' union is pushing to have even more cancers recognized.
"We still have work to do with the government and the Workplace Safety [and] Insurance Board and we won't stop," Atkinson said.