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Hundreds of firefighters — from near and far — honor MaShawn Plummer: ‘He gave everything’

MaShawn Plummer, who died Dec. 21 after being critically wounded in a fire, will be remembered for his heroic actions and for being the epitome of a brave firefighter, his colleagues said.

Firefighters from across Chicago wait in formation for the final salute during a private visitation for CFD firefighter MaShawn Plummer.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

MaShawn Plummer was proud to be a firefighter and had aspirations to climb the ranks to chief one day.

Plummer was so dedicated to the job, in fact, he went to the Black Fire Brigade every Sunday to be tutored.

Lt. Quention Curtis, one of Plummer’s mentors and founder of the Black Fire Brigade, described the late rookie firefighter as “a great kid” and “motivated.”

He “wanted the job so badly and lived for the job,” Curtis recalled. “And just wanted to learn a lot.”

Curtis was among the many who walked into Leak and Sons Funeral Home in Chatham on Wednesday evening with a heavy heart.

“It’s going to be hard… [He’s] a kid that I’ve seen on his first day, I’ve seen him on this journey to becoming a firefighter. I’ve watched him grow in this last year and watched him give everything he had,” said Curtis, a member of Engine 511, the department’s hazmat team. “It’s going to be a very emotional moment. It’s going to be like, ‘I know this kid, I knew this kid, I talked to this kid, I trained this kid.”

Firefighters from around the nation, including some from Boston, New York City and many suburban departments, gathered at the South Side funeral home to pay their respects to Plummer, who died Dec. 21, five days after he was critically injured while fighting an apartment fire in the Belmont Central neighborhood. Plummer, 30, had just celebrated his one-year anniversary in the department. His funeral will be held Thursday morning at House of Hope, 752 E. 114th St.

Outside the funeral home, two fire trucks raised an American flag over the entrance. Lights from fire engines, ambulances and police squad cars flickered as the firefighters gathered shoulder-to-shoulder in several long lines down the street.

Led by Chicago Fire Department’s Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, the uniformed, off-duty men and women then streamed through the funeral home and stopped to salute Plummer, who laid in a casket that had a Chicago flag draped over it. An arrangement of red and white flowers in the design of the CFD’s emblem was on display.

Firefighters file into the funeral home for the final salute during a private visitation for CFD firefighter MaShawn Plummer.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Sam Dillon, a member of the Boston Fire Department’s honor guard, said he felt a sense of pride as he stood among comrades in the blistering cold before the procession.

“Our profession is based off of brotherhood. Chicago would do the same thing for us… it’s what we do for each other,” Dillon said on why he and two other members of the Boston Fire Department made the trip. “It’s an incredible honor to share the same profession as someone like [Plummer.] Any one of us could be put in the same situation as he was, and he did what he had to do, and he laid down his life and sacrificed his life for others.”

Plummer will be remembered for his heroic actions and for being the epitome of a brave firefighter, Curtis and his colleagues said.

“There were other people trapped in there, and he gave it all to try to rescue people, and you can never forget that,” Curtis said. “That’s what the world should remember — he gave everything. People don’t realize, [firefighters] give our lives to save another life, and he did that.”

CFD Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt files into the funeral home for the final salute during a private visitation for CFD firefighter MaShawn Plummer.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times