CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago firefighter Jermaine Pelt died after an extra-alarm fire in the West Pullman neighborhood Tuesday morning.
Purple bunting is now up here at firefighter Pelt's firehouse and the flag is also now at half-staff. The beloved father of two has been with the department for 18 years, serving the Roseland community.
"The chief asked us if we wanted to be out of service and we said no, because this is what Jermaine would do. Jermaine wouldn't take the day off," said CFD Capt. Rory Ohse.
Just celebrating his 49th birthday last month, Pelt was with his crew early Tuesday morning fighting the fire near 120th and Wallace streets.
The fire started in a home and quickly spread to the adjacent buildings. That's where Pelt was getting water to the fire inside the home when conditions worsened and he and his crew had to get out.
When his lieutenant didn't see him come out, they knew something was wrong. Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance Holt knew Pelt well, and was fighting back tears.
"In the course of this fire, firefighter Jermaine Pelt, who I personally knew and worked with, was on a hose line in a 120-9 exposure building," She said. "Conditions worsened and all members were ordered out. It appears that firefighter Pelt went down as crews were being ordered out of the building. A mayday was called and he was quickly found near the hose line and brought out for treatment."
CFD procession for fallen firefighter leaves hospital, arrives at ME's office
Pelt recently walked his daughter down the aisle, and she is on her honeymoon right now. She got the news on Tuesday morning, and is rushing home. His family took part in his procession to the medical examiners office. Pelt also left behind a 6-year-old.
"Jermaine is our family and when we lose one of our members, it takes a toll on us and people just don't know what firefighters and paramedics go through daily when they respond to these calls not knowing if they will come home the next day," Commissioner Nance Holt said. "He just walked his daughter down the aisle."
Pelt was a soft-spoken man with a heart of gold, who was also a registered nurse and a paramedic. For the last two years, he volunteered down at the academy as an instructor.
"It takes a lot for someone to volunteer to go down there and train other people to do it, to do the job the way it should be done. Jermaine is going to be missed," said said CFD Lt. David Bernicky, who served with Pelt.
He was also, they said, a fantastic cook.
"I'm holding my belly from the cooking he did. He cooked yesterday. He made BBQ chicken, jerk chicken, fried chicken, corn bread," Bernicky said. "He was a very kind hearted person. We're going to miss him."
Pelt's father, John, spoke outside a firehouse about his son Tuesday.
"Jermaine was just a joy to all of our family. Everybody loved him," he said. "Jermaine only lived 49 years. I'm 79. I'm 30 years older than he is. He was cheated out of 30 years."
It was that kindness, but also his stern character, that John and Pelt's friends said made him into the firefighter he was
"Jermaine would be willing to help anybody, but he knew how to tell you to get off or bag up," John said.
Two other firefighters had minor injuries and are OK.
CFD Commissioner Annette Nance Holt announces death of firefighter
Two adults and two children were displaced after the fire, all of them are OK.
The fire investigation team is working to determine a cause of the fire.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement on Twitter, saying, "I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jermaine Pelt, an 18-year veteran of the CFD, who died early this morning in the line of duty. My heartfelt sympathies are w/ his family, fellow CFD colleagues, & his brothers & sisters of Engine 75 following this tragic incident. It takes a special form of bravery to work as a first responder, to rise to meet different disasters and dangerous situations on a daily basis. Jermaine put his life on the line to answer this call, a selfless act of bravery and dedication to the residents of this city. Our city mourns this tragic loss today, and is here to uplift all who loved Jermaine with our prayers and support."