The Springville Fire Department is grieving the loss of one of their own.
On Monday, Jared Wayne Echols, 35, was training at the Anniston Regional Training Center when he collapsed around 9:13 a.m. after about 15 to 20 minutes into a search and rescue training exercise. Echols later died at Anniston Regional Medical Center.
“Jared will be remembered for his infectious smile, his unending generosity and his servant’s heart,’’ Chief Richard Harvey said. “I’ve known Jared for pretty much all of his life. Before his fire service, in the fire service, in our church and everywhere else.
“He had a steadfast love for his lord savior Jesus Christ. And because of that, I know right now he’s in good hands.”
The funeral for Echols will be held at The Church at Bradford Road on Friday at 2 p.m. Harvey says there will not be a visitation beforehand and the public is invited.
Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff:
“It is with great sadness that I have ordered flags to be flown at half-staff to honor Springville Firefighter Jared Echols, who died in the line of duty on Monday. On behalf of the state of Alabama, I offer our heartfelt condolences & prayers to the Echols family.”
According to Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown, Echols was training outside at the center when he collapsed from heat stroke and went into cardiac arrest. No official cause of death has been released at this time.
First responders administered medical care immediately and Anniston EMS transported Echols to Anniston Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 10 a.m.
Echols leaves behind a wife and two small children, as well as a close community devastated by his death.
A lifelong resident of Springville, Echols graduated from Springville High School in 2001. He attended Jefferson State Community College and Herzing College, where he completed his Paramedic training in Dec. 2016.
Echols began as a volunteer firefighter at Pleasant Hill Volunteer Fire Department in July 2015. He previously completed training courses at Alabama Fire College including Basic Fire Attack, Emergency Vehicle Drive, Apparatus Operator: Mobile Water Supply and had recently completed the Volunteer Firefighter Certification and Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations Course in March 2019.
He started at the Springville Fire Department in January 2019, and was currently a student in the Firefighter Bridge Course at the Anniston Regional Training Center of the Alabama Fire College.
“He’s touched many, many lives, even in the short time he was with us,’’ Harvey said. “I can name numerous occasions he made a difference and he’s going to be missed.”
Springville Fire Department currently has 13 full time firemen, six part-time and eight volunteer in two stations. They handle over 900 calls a year.
Harvey emphasized that this was an medical incident, and not an accident.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating.
“We vow to learn from this so that it never happens again,” said Harvey.