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A city remembers firefighter/EMT MaShawn Plummer

The rookie firefighter died in December, just days after battling an apartment fire on the Northwest Side.

Chicago firefighter/EMT MaShawn Plummer’s casket is loaded onto a firetruck Thursday after his funeral at the House of Hope church on the Far South Side. Plummer, 30, died Dec. 21, five days after he was critically injured while fighting an apartment fire.
Chicago firefighter/EMT MaShawn Plummer’s casket is loaded onto a firetruck Thursday after his funeral at the House of Hope church on the Far South Side. Plummer, 30, died Dec. 21, five days after he was critically injured while fighting an apartment fire.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

To his family and friends, MaShawn Plummer was like the superheroes he loved reading about in the pages of Marvel comic books.

But Plummer didn’t squeeze into a gleaming, caped costume or summon special powers. His uniform was grubby, wrinkled — smeared in dirt, ashes and sweat.

“He didn’t have a utility belt. He was not from the [planet] Krypton. He was an ordinary guy with bravery and a heart that was larger than life,” said his mentor and lifelong friend Michael Simmons.

MaShawn Plummer
MaShawn Plummer
Chicago Fire Department

Simmons spoke Thursday in the cavernous House of Hope on the Far South Side, where Plummer’s family and hundreds of white-gloved firefighters gathered to remember the rookie Chicago firefighter/EMT. Plummer died in December five days after he was critically injured while fighting an apartment fire on the Northwest Side.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot called Plummer a “phenomenal young man” who lost his life “far too soon.” Plummer was 30.

She talked about the kid who grew up in Englewood and who had a “mission and a passion to serve others.” He became the first in his family to graduate from college, she noted.

“Firefighter/EMT Plummer may have only had one year on the job, but in that one year, he gave his all to support his fellow firefighters and protect people in need,” Lightfoot said. “He met them — many of them — on their toughest days, and he rendered aid and assistance because that’s what he was trained to do. But more importantly, that’s what was in his heart.”

Drew Kurz, one of Plummer’s best friends, said the two met while playing football for Quincy University.

“He was instantly one of the weirdest, yet most interesting, people I’ve come to meet,” said Kurz. “From day one, there was a sense of brotherhood. We laughed together, … drank together — only when we were legally able to, of course.”

Kurz said they remained close friends after college.

“MaShawn was there, always by my side, throughout all my big life events: from losing my father, having children, getting married and helping me and my wife move into our first home,” Kurz said. “The part that is the most frustrating for me — and I’m sure for many others — is that he was ready to accomplish all of these things himself and was excited to have his friends and family there to see him succeed.”

The service was briefly delayed when Plummer’s mother, Felicia Townsend Plummer, appeared to be overcome with emotion as she stood beside her son’s open casket. Family members quickly swarmed in to support her, and she was taken out on a medical wheelchair. She returned a short while later.

She was among the last speakers Thursday. And as she held the microphone, a sea of firefighters in their dress blues stood in a show of respect.

“He spent every day of his life [saying], ‘Mama, you need me to do something?’ or ‘Mama, what can I do for you?’ That’s who he was. … We had an angel among us. We had him for 30 long years,” Plummer said.

A few minutes later, as an icy wind blew, the pallbearers carried Plummer’s black casket to a waiting firetruck from the Northwest Side firehouse where Plummer had been assigned. Purple-and-black bunting adorned the sides of the truck, along with Plummer’s fire jacket and helmet.

A Chicago Fire Department fire engine sits adorned outside the House of Hope church before the funeral for firefighter MaShawn Plummer on the Far South Side, Thursday morning, Jan. 6, 2022. Plummer, 30, of Engine 94 on the Northwest Side, died Dec. 21, five days after he was critically inured while fighting an apartment fire.
A Chicago Fire Department truck sits adorned outside the House of Hope church before the funeral Thursday for firefighter/EMT MaShawn Plummer.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times