Updated: Thursday, 13 Jan 2011, 5:34 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 13 Jan 2011, 12:42 PM EST
HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) - A southtowns volunteer firefighter died suddenly after a training exercise on Wednesday. The sudden and tragic loss is leaving his extended family with heavy hearts. His colleagues came forward Thursday afternoon.
Thursday afternoon, members of the Big Tree Fire Company talked about the very sudden death of a friend and volunteer. While investigators are still trying to figure out the cause of death, firefighters are mourning the first line of duty death for the department.
26-year-old Jarrett Eleam felt ill during self-contained breathing apparatus training on Monday night at the fire hall. His fellow firefighters rushed him to Mercy Hospital where his condition deteriorated. Eleam passed away Wednesday night.
Big Tree Fire Chief Ed Hughes said, "He was a very outgoing gentleman, great personality, the kids loved him. He was gonna be a future star in our fire company."
Bob Stoberl of the Big Tree Fire Company said, "Like the UNYTS slogan, "You're given the gift of life, give it back." We're trained to save lives and Jarrett did that. He is saving lives giving his organs to the UNYTS program."
The cause of death is still under investigation. A funeral is being planned for his hometown of Pittsburgh. Jarrett Eleam was just installed this past weekend as the Lieutenant of fire prevention for the fire company.
A memorial fund will be established, and details will be posted on the company's website.