03/30/2015 04:38 EDT | Updated 05/30/2015 05:59 EDT

Kevin Hagerty's memorial draws attention to PTSD risk among firefighters

A memorial service for Kevin Hagerty, the Surrey, B.C. firefighter who took his own life on March 1 after a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder, was held on Monday.

Hagerty, 53, was an acting captain and had been with the Surrey Fire Service for nearly 20 years. During his career he advocated for mental health, worked with the B.C. Burn Fund and assisted the Surrey Fire Fighters' Charitable Society.

"Kevin was a champion advocate for mental health," Surrey Fire Fighters Association President Mike McNamara said, speaking for the family after the service.

"He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and in the end he lost his battle," McNamara said.

Dealing with emergencies

Firefighters are among those who can suffer from job-related post-traumatic stress, which can be triggered by experiencing a terrifying event. Symptoms can include flashbacks and severe anxiety.

"We cannot emphasize enough the significance of the efforts Kevin made to try and help all workers with the difficulties that come with the service we provide," McNamara said earlier in a statement released March 24.

A number of firefighters attended the service, which was closed to media.

In lieu of flowers, people were asked to make donations in Hagerty's memory to the Surrey Fire Fighters' Charitable Society, the Canadian Mental Health Association, or the B.C. Burn Fund.