MUNCIE, Ind. - Services were held Thursday for the Hamilton Township volunteer firefighter who died after battling a barn fire last week. Jeffrey A. Blackmer, 42, died in in the line of duty after he was found unresponsive in the Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department station three hours after returning from a run.
Blackmer's funeral service took place at the Destiny Christian Center. Firefighters from across Indiana joined Blackmer's family and friends to remember the father, fiancé, uncle, and grandson.
"On Wednesday, December 20, this community and fire company lost a hero, Jeffrey Allan Blackmer to a sudden cardiac event," Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tim Baty said to those inside the church. "As a fire chief, you always worry about that fire or that call when a hero doesn't come home. Unfortunately, that was a day for the Hamilton Township volunteer fire community."
Baty shared several stories about Blackmer. He said the Cowan High School graduate started looking at earning his EMT certification just before he died. He added Blackmer wanted to get the training so he could have another way to help others.
Blackmer began his firefighting career in Wisconsin. When he moved back to Indiana, the department was working to make sure his credentials could carry over to his new department, which would reduce the amount of training he would go through. Baty said Blackmer wanted to go through all the training and courses still because he wanted to do that with the men and women he'd be working with in Hamilton Township.
Also speaking at the service was Blackmer's younger sister, Amanda Shadoan.
“He was loved by dogs and children," Shadoan said. "That’s a big deal because dogs have a sixth sense of knowing who they can trust. And children feel, they feel deeply in their heart who loves them. They know a kindred heart when they see one.”
Shadoan shared stories about growing up with Jeffrey. She remembers her older brother picking her for a game of "flashlight tag," a game the children played growing up.
"He always found the best hiding spots," Shadoan said. "He didn't want me hiding with him because he didn't want his little sister around."
Shadoan recalled one particular night where her brother picked her and the siblings went on to win.
She said she thought her brother became a firefighter because he suffered from grand mal seizures. She remembered one of his first, when he was really young. Firefighters had to help save him. His condition prevented him from joining the military, but Shadoan thinks the help he received pushed him toward helping, too.
A firefighter's funeral procession followed the service at the church. Blackmer was laid to rest with honors at the Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Muncie.
Gov. Eric Holcomb has asked Delaware County residents to place their flags at half-staff on Friday.
Blackmer is the fifth Indiana firefighter to die in the line of duty in 2017.