RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Richland Fire Department is remembering one of their own.
Earl "Sparky" Meier served with the department for 28 years and died suddenly on Monday.
The Richland Fire Department said "Sparky" was a go-to guy, always looking to be helpful in anyway he could.
The department's fire chief said the void is going to be difficult to fill.
"He was all about the fire department. He lived and breathed the Richland Fire Department. His focus in life was to serve the community," said the Richland Fire Department's Fire Chief Jerry Luedecking.
Earl "Sparky" Meier served on the Richland Fire Department for 28 years, and the fire chief said nobody actually knew him by his first name.
"I don’t think there was anyone in the fire service in Kalamazoo County that knows his name as Earl. He was an electrician and got his nickname as Sparky as an electrician," said Chief Luedecking.
Sparky passed away suddenly, in his sleep on Monday at the age of 65. He is now being remembered by both the community and his 20 colleagues at the department.
"He was a go-to guy. If I need a truck taken in for repairs, he would do it. If one of the firemen needed help with something, he would do it. He was always reliable," said Chief Luedecking.
Tim Stuck, a lieutenant for the Richland Fire Department and Sparky's neighbor said they worked together for ten years.
He said Sparky was very knowledgeable and loved operating their tanker.
"He primarily was an engine operator for us. He knew these trucks inside and out. If there was a piece of equipment that you couldn’t find, he knew exactly where it was or where it should be. He could run the pumps better than anyone else on the department. He was the guy that could pretty much do everything," said Richland Fire Department Lieutenant Tim Stuck.
Even on his off time, they said he was present. He played the role of Santa Clause for the department and community each year and Christmas time. He was also there when he was needed.
"He responded to about 70% of all of our calls. He is going to be a big void to fill," said Chief Luedecking.
The Richland Fire Department said due to COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral services will be limited to just close family.
The department said they are hoping to celebrate Sparky's life this summer so the entire department and community can remember him.