Family, friends remember firefighter who died during house fire

WATCH: Memphis firefighter remembers Lieutenant Rodney Eddins
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Fire Department is mourning the loss of one of their own.

Lt. Rodney Eddins, 57, collapsed while fighting a house fire in the 4500 block of Marigold Lane during firefighting/overhaul procedures.

The fire happened around 11:34 p.m. Saturday. The fire was brought under control shortly after fire crews arrived, then Eddins went back inside the Westwood home, where he collapsed.

Lt. Eddins was taken to Methodist South Hospital in critical condition, but he later died.

Eddins served as a firefighter for 30 years.

Fire officials released the following statement:

"Our prayers are extended to the family, loved ones and friends."

Eddins' cause of death is still being investigated. No other injuries were reported.

MFD Director Gina Sweat spoke of the department's loss Sunday afternoon.

"It goes to show the extreme amount of work that's involved to be in a firefighter and the wear and tear it can take on your body," Sweat said. "He was a thirty year veteran who dedicated his life and body to the city of Memphis."

Sweat said working for the department is a family affair for the Eddins family. Two of his cousins also serve the city of Memphis.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland released the following statement in regards to the loss of Lt. Eddins:

"Melyne and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Lieutenant Rodney Eddins, a 30-year veteran of the Memphis Fire Department. We send our deepest condolences to the Eddins family and the Memphis Fire family at this time."

Eddins leaves behind a wife and daughter. Firefighters at Station 37 said Eddins was much more than a mentor. He was a friend, a brother, and someone they loved.

"It is not going to be the same," Charlie Tate said. "To work with a person for this short of a period of time, to grow to love him the way we did--coming in tomorrow is not going to be the same."

Tate fought through tears and said Eddins will never be forgotten.

"He wouldn't let us do anything by ourselves. He was a Lieutenant where if we were working, he was working. The first thing I did was call my wife and said, 'My lieutenant is gone.' I tried to be strong, but I couldn't. I cried. I cried like a baby."

Eddins was a firefighter with the Air Force before he returned home to Memphis to serve the community he grew up in.

To his fellow firefighters, he was their rock.

"I never saw him with a frown on his face," Tate said. "Every day he came in he had a smile on his face. So to me, I knew everything was going to be okay."

His team said he died doing what he loved and they don't think he would have wanted it any other way. However, they want him to know he was much more than a coworker.

"I want him to know he was my mentor," Tate said. "He taught me everything."

The owners of the home shared their thanks and condolences to the Eddins family, calling him a hero.

"I'm very thankful, because that could've been me my husband or our kids, but I am sorry that he lost his life," Erica MacFarland said.

MacFarland and her husband William Holmes said they look at Eddins as a hero.

"I actually cried; I've been crying all night," MacFarland said.

MacFarland said she has a newfound respect for firefighters.

"I see firsthand now that it's is now a difficult job," Erica said.

Family of the homeowners said they saw Eddins go inside after the flames went out.

"Shortly after that, they were bringing a fire man out," Ray MacFarland said.

The family said after hearing the likely cause of the fire, they are thankful it didn't happen when they were asleep.

"Fireman said it looked like an electrical short from the southwest bedroom," Ray said.

Erica said the house can be repaired, but family is priceless.

WMC Action News 5 is planning to hold a fundraiser for Lt. Eddins. It will be held Thursday, April 19 from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. More information on the fundraiser will be available soon.

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