Volunteer firefighter laid to rest in Muncie

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — A volunteer firefighter in Delaware County who died hours after helping battle a blaze was laid to rest on Thursday.

Jeff Blackmer, 42, died a week ago after battling a fire. On Thursday, he was buried at Garden of Memory Cemetery in Muncie.

The funeral procession followed the flag-covered casket into the cemetery on a cold December morning.

“Jeff was a dedicated fireman who was dedicated to his family, the fire department and the community as a whole. He protected on a daily basis,” said Hamilton Township Fire Chief Tim Baty.

As a volunteer firefighter, Blackmer had served on the Hamilton Township Fire Department for the past year, according to the department’s chief. Before that, he was a firefighter in Wisconsin, acting as a teacher to his colleagues.

“His dedication and the time he spent mentoring some of the younger fireman who had just joined and needed some training, Jeff had all that from Wisconsin,” said Baty.

A fellow firefighter discovered his body at the station last Wednesday. He had battled a blaze earlier that morning. The coroner has not yet released a cause of death. However, Blackmer’s death is considered a line-of-duty death because of its closeness in time to his participation in fighting a fire, according to Baty.

“After today, I hope we can honor Jeff and move forward and better ourselves and better our department in the future to come,” said Baty.

Thursday’s funeral was an opportunity to grieve and to celebrate a man who paid the ultimate price to serve and protect his community, leaving them with one last lesson, the chief said: “Live each day like it’s your last, ’cause you don’t know.”

Jeff leaves behind his fiancée, two children and four stepchildren. His death marks the first for the Hamilton Township Fire Department in its more than 40-year history.