Veteran Memphis firefighter dies after battling flames

The Memphis Fire Department is mourning the loss of a 30-year veteran, who collapsed and died while battling flames Saturday night at a home in Westwood.

Lt. Rodney Eddins, 57, leaves behind a wife and an adult daughter, according to Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat.

“We ask God to comfort his wife, daughter and other family members during this extremely difficult time,” Sweat said. “I sat with his sister this morning and she told me all Rodney ever wanted to be was a firefighter.”

Eddins dedicated his life to serving the City of Memphis and two of his family members, both cousins, are also firefighters in Memphis.

“His family has a call to service,” Sweat said. “I think anybody that spends their entire life serving the community and risking their life day in and day out - I think that says all you need to know about the character of this man.”

Sweat said the fire department is waiting for a report from the Shelby County Medical Examiner to determine what caused Eddins’ sudden death. But Sweat added that Eddins death is a reminder of the dangers first responders face every day.

“This was what many would consider a routine fire,” Sweat said. “I believe this just goes to show the strenuous amount of work that's involved with being a firefighter, and the amount of wear and tear it can take on your body over the years.”

The National Fire Protection Association studied the causes of the deaths of 64 firefighters in 2014.

The leading cause of death was overexertion and/or medical issues. According to the study, 58% of firefighter deaths were caused by a medical-related problem, with cardiac arrest being the leading cause of medical-related deaths.

Just 8% of the deaths were caused by rapid fires or explosions. And about 20% of firefighters were killed by dangers generally associated with fires, such as structural collapses, entrapments, or exposure to electricity.

Vehicle crashes were the second-leading cause of firefighter deaths in 2014, according to the study.

The Memphis Fire Department was called to a home on the 4500 block of Marigold Lane at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday. The fire was under control when Eddins collapsed inside the home, officials said Sunday.

Investigators determined the home did not have a working smoke alarm. The cause of the fire was due to a malfunctioned portable fan in the bedroom area.

A husband and wife lived with their four children in the home. Officials said all six of them are safe, and the Red Cross is assisting them after the fire.

Tune into Good Morning Memphis as we continue to follow the latest surrounding Lt. Eddins life and death, beginning at 4:30 a.m. WATCH HERE.