GODFREY, Ill. – The firefighting community in the bi-state region is mourning the loss of a firefighter who died in the line of duty Tuesday afternoon.
Captain Jacob Ringering of the Godfrey Fire Protection District succumbed to injuries he suffered while battling flames during a house fire. He was 37. He’s survived by his wife and their three young children.
The flag outside the Godfrey fire station was set at half-staff and black bunting draped around the building in Captain Ringering’s honor.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office to determine the cause of the fire, which started inside a brick house on Culp Lane around 4:15 p.m. in Fosterburg.
Fosterburg firefighters requested aid from the Bethalto, Brighton, Cottage Hills, Dorsey, and Godfrey fire departments.
While crews were fighting the blaze, a portion of the outer wall collapsed. Four firefighters were injured. Captain Ringering was killed and Godfrey firefighter Luke Warner had his legs broken. Warner, a Navy veteran, was airlifted to a St. Louis hospital and he’s expected to recover.
The other two firefighters were treated and released.
According to the Godfrey Fire Protection District, Ringering was the department's technical rescue officer with several years of experience and also taught at Lewis and Clark Community College. He'd been a member of the Godfrey department since August 2010. He began his fire service career with the East Alton Fire Department in 2001.
Godfrey Fire Chief Erick Kamrian said the department loved Ringering and loved working with him.
"Jake was gold," Kamrian said. "He embodied this department. People joined this department because of Jake and people wanted to be like Jake."
Ringering was a natural leader, Kamrian said.
"(Jake) could train anyone to do anything ... People wanted to work with him. They wanted to pull duty with him because they could learn from him. Because he set the example."
Kamrian said everyone in the department was hurting.
Funeral arrangements for Ringering are still pending.
BackStoppers will provide financial assistance to Ringering’s family. The charity already provided the family with an immediate $10,000 donation, with additional funds to follow.
Meanwhile, the family whose home was destroyed by the fire released the following statement:
“We lost everything we owned in that home but most of those items can be replaced. But unfortunately, the life of a firefighter was lost and more injured while fighting the fire. Captain Jake Ringering with the Godfrey Fire Protection District lost his life while attempting to help people that he did not know.”