The loss of a loved one is so much pain it is hard to put into words. But that is exactly what members of the Youngsville Fire Department are feeling right now.
The public is invited to honor this fallen firefighter. Details are below.
On December 25th their beloved Assistant Chief Jeff Fields died suddenly after surviving a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery. It came as a shock to all who thought he was on the mend.
Today we had a chance to stop by the Youngsville Fire Department and talk to some of the officers who knew Jeff well. While they found it tough to talk at times, and tears welled up, they shared a bit about who Jeff Fields was and what a loss it is to the Youngsville brotherhood of firefighters now that he’s gone.
We would like to sincerely thank Assistant Chief David Williams, Lieutenant Andy Dudash, and Captain John Sumner for taking some time to share fond memories of Jeff Fields.
Assistant Chief Fields joined the department in 1984 and all described him as a big guy with a big heart. They say he’d give the shirt off his back to help those in trouble. “He was always the first to volunteer and we counted on him to be there,” said Williams. Dudash said Fields was one of the top call runners for the past decade, assisting with more than 50% of all calls in the fire district.
His daughter Emily, age 19, happened to work her way up and just recently become a full volunteer on the Youngsville Fire Department. With the loss of her father it was said that whoever Emily decides to marry one day is going to have to pass the acceptance test of her 50 brothers at the Youngsville Fire Department.
One story they shared about Jeff was his love and desire to prank the Youngsville Christmas parade. One time he led the parade in his treasured Engine 41 and then managed to sneak around to go through the parade route again. Two pass Jeff developed a reputation of wanting to repeat that as often as he could. One member said if he could have gone around three times he certainly would have. You just know he must have had a huge smile on his face doing that.
The last call Fields ran was on December 12th at 6:07 PM. It was a tangled mess of cars that had collided at U.S. 1 and Holden Road in front of the Sheetz. Fields was described as cool under fire, in charge, hosting a comfortable smile, and an extremely competent professional. Captain John Sumner who was on that call with Fields said he handled it like the huge number of other calls he responded to, with kindness, competence, and grace.
Getting ready for the funeral of Fields is an emotional experience and the men, some who appeared numb, are doing the most heartfelt and professional job they can while at the same time responding to calls for help and service.
The department wanted to specifically thank the North Carolina Fallen Fighters Foundation for helping them through this tough time and their help to organize the events to honor fields.
Fields loved his fellow firefighters at the Youngsville Fire Department and they most certainly loved him. Even in his passing fellows from the department cared for Jeff.
Jeff Fields was a unique man. The guys told the story of how this big guy recently signed up for Zumba to help exercise. Before he joined the class normally attended by all women he made sure none of the ladies would mind if this firefighter joined in. They loved him at the class.
The loss of Fields leaves a big hole to fill at the Youngsville Fire Department.
Local fire departments scheduled to appear at the viewing and memorial service for Assistant Chief Jeff Fields include Franklinton, Wake Forest, Stony Hill, Brassfield, Louisburg, and Bunn Fire Departments. Others will most certainly appear as well.
The Public is Invited to Honor This Fallen Firefighter
A public memorial and visitation will take place following the collection of the cremated remains of Jeff Fields by his beloved Engine 41. His remains will be brought to the Youngsville Fire Department Station One at 803 Wheaton Ave in Youngsville, NC where all are invited to stop by between Noon and 2PM to express their sympathy and give a firefighter a hug.
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For those that wish to at least honor this fallen hero by standing on the funeral route as he passes on the way to church, the cadre of fire apparatus will pass up Main Street in downtown Youngsville on the way to the church sometime between 2:30 and 2:45 PM, tomorrow, Saturday, December 27th.
The funeral of Assistant Chief Fields will be held at his beloved church, the Youngsville Baptist Church at 3 PM.
Fields is survived by his wife Lisa, his son Bryce, his daughter Emily, and 50 firefighters who loved him and miss him very much.