SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah firefighters are mourning the loss of one of their own.
Local 574, The Savannah Professional Firefighters Association announced the passing of Advanced Firefighter James "Jimmy" Perez on Friday. The 25-year-old husband and father of two had been battling stage 4 liver cancer.
"It is a tough day for us," said Local 574 Vice President Johnny Hinton. "We began the day celebrating a holiday but we do it with heavy hearts, knowing that we not only lost a family man, but a friend and brother."
Perez was assigned to Engine 7 - "C" shift.
"Jimmy was most importantly a family man. That was his number one concern, said Hinton. "Outside of that, he dedicated himself to this job, this profession, this brotherhood of ours. He gave 100 percent."
Local 574 has been supporting the Perez family with a number of fundraisers, including its 2017 St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt Sale.
"Local 574, The Savannah Professional Firefighters Association prides itself on taking care of our own," said Hinton. "We learned early on when starting the T-Shirt sells, there was a need to help his family, so we decided to donate the proceeds from any T-Shirts we sell for St. Patrick's Day to his family."
Hinton said the response was overwhelming. The Union sold out of its St. Patrick's Day T-Shirts on Friday.
"There was an enormous outpouring of support from the local community that we could have never imagined," he said. "This year has been a tough year for Local 574 and The Savannah Fire Department. We just move ahead knowing we have everyone around us and the community's support. We just move forward and go out every day, completing the mission, so to speak. This is what we signed up to do."
Prior to joining Savannah Fire and Emergency Services, Perez was a firefighter for the Richmond Hill Fire Department. He joined as a volunteer when he was 18 because he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.
"He was a loving father and husband, and at only 25 years old, Jimmy's passing will be difficult to process. He was always a joy to have around, and he will forever be remembered," a statement on the Richmond Hill Fire Department's Facebook page reads. "We ask for everyone to keep Jimmy's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers."
A celebrate of life service will be held on Saturday, March 25 at Unity Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia starting at 11 a.m. The second service will be held in Savannah on Sunday, March 26, at 4 p.m. at Compassion Christian Church in the adult ministries building located at 55 Al Henderson Boulevard, Savannah.
A GoFundMe account has been created for the Perez family. To make a donation, click here.