Savannah Fire and Emergency mourns loss of Tod Heil - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah Fire and Emergency mourns loss of Tod Heil

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Savannah Fire and Emergency Services is mourning the loss of one of their own; a friend, co-worker and a true leader.

Retired Battalion Chief Tod Heil passed away on Friday after battling brain cancer.

Heil's passing has had a huge impact on each and every person in this department. A 15 year veteran, Heil rose through the ranks, and it's clear he will leave a lasting impact on each and every person in the department.

"Training Division Chief Heil, in my opinion, had a very simple philosophy," said Chief Jeff Alberts. "Master your skills and develop your people, and there's probably not one person that I don't know in this department that he has not touched in one way, either in mastering their skills or developing them as a leader."

Before Heil became a 15 year veteran of the force, he was an actual veteran of the U.S. Army, where his strength and leadership carried over.

"Being there together, he was a hard leader back then as he was here," said Advanced firefighter Steve Emberton. "He expected certain things and people to do them."

When Heil joined the fire department in 1998 and rose through the ranks, he won several awards, including Fire Officer of the Year, but many will remember him as Rescue Squad Leader during the catastrophic sugar refinery blaze in 2008.

"For some to endure all of that in the conditions that they were in, just shows the fortitude that he has to do the job, but also lead the others," said Alberts. "Because when everyone wanted to quit because they were tired. They would look over and see him driving on, that would just push them to keep going, too, because no one would want to show that they were weak around them."

Heil was a major key player in numerous programs in and out of the department, but many firefighters knew him as their Recruit Class Coordinator where he trained new recruits.

"He was a battalion chief, a firefighters and that's what everyone is going to remember him now," said master firefighter Scott Boyd. "But that's 10 percent of who Tod Heil was. He was just a good man."

While Heil passed from cancer, the fires he battled and the lives he saved and his lasting legacy will be remembered forever. The fire department is flying its flag at half staff in his honor.

Heil leaves behind a wife and three kids.

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