North Carolina Assistant Chief Dies at Fire Station

A North Carolina Assistant Fire Chief passed away Saturday, May 7th while on duty at the fire station.

Assistant Chief Mike Childress, of the Level Cross Volunteer Fire Department in Randolph County, died after an apparent heart attack, said Deputy Chief Stephen Russell. He was 48 years old.

Childress had been on duty Saturday night and didn't feel well Saturday morning, Russell said. While other firefighters attended a training burn, he stayed behind at the fire station with another firefighter and laid down for a nap at 10 a.m.

Childress's daughter, an 18-year-old junior firefighter, came by to wake him up at about 12:15 and found that he had passed away.

Childress is survived by his wife and daughter.

He served the department for 16 years, first as a volunteer firefighter and then starting two years ago, as one of the department's three full time, paid firefighters.

Russell said the fire station was Childress's second home, whether he was on duty or off. "He gave 110 percent and more," the deputy chief said. "He went beyond his duty up here. It's a big shock to the whole county."

Childress had also painted the fire station, done carpentry work and remodeled the day rooms. "He left his mark here," Russell said. He added that Childress was well-liked and had a one of a kind personality.

Childress is the first member of the department to die in the line of duty. The department has a total of about 30 volunteer and full time members.

"He was just a really good man and he's going to be missed so much," said another member. "We're all one big family and we're taking it so hard."

The arrangements are as follows:

Visitation will be Tuesday, May 10, 2005 from 6 - 9 p.m. at Pugh Funeral Home, 600 South Main Street, Randleman, NC 27317-2020.

The funeral will be Wednesday, May 11, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. at Bethlehem United Methodist Church, 6103 NC Highway 22, Climax, NC 27233-9144.

Russell said Childress will be carried from the funeral home to the church on the one fire truck he approved of, the department's 1988 E-1. "He only liked E-1's," Russell laughed.