The U.S. Fire Service will honor three firefighters, including the late Capt. Earnest “Moe” McDuffie who served with the Hinesville Fire Department. These first responders from the state of Georgia died in the line of duty and will be remembered during the 38th National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Sunday, Oct. 6. They are among the 92 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2018 and 27 firefighters who died in previous years who will be remembered at the official national service at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Captain Earnest M. McDuffie, age 51, of the Hinesville Fire Department, died on February 20, 2018, after collapsing while performing mandatory physical training at a local park.
Firefighter Stacey Leigh Boulware, age 44, of the Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services, died on March 12, 2018, after collapsing at the station upon returning from emergency calls and participating in a required annual physical agility test.
Firefighter Adam Chadwick Taylor, age 30, of the Decatur County Fire Department, died on March 31, 2018, from cardiac arrest after completing a search and rescue drill during his shift.
Their names will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the Academy grounds. The national tribute is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Fire Administration.
More than 5,000 people, including families, friends, members of Congress, Administration officials and firefighters are expected to attend on Sunday. Firefighter Honor Guards and Pipe & Drum units from across the U.S. will participate in this national remembrance.
Hinesville Fire Marshal Capt. Jerry Heath, who worked side-by-side with McDuffie as the deputy fire marshal, said McDuffie is sorely missed by colleagues and citizens still ask about him more than a year and a half after his passing.
“He was my buddy,” Heath said. “It’s been a rough time.”
Heath described McDuffie as “just a super guy.”
“He was my boss and you couldn’t ask for a greater boss than he was. We ran all calls together, we ran all inspections together. He taught me, besides the school, the ropes in the fire marshal’s office,” he said.
Heath said McDuffie was tough, but fair, as fire marshal.
“We went by the codes and consistency was our main thing; consistency throughout the city. What was good for one was good for the other,” he said.
McDuffie joined the HFD in 2001. He progressed through to the rank of Engineer in 2007. In 2010, he was promoted to Lieutenant/Deputy Fire Marshal and in 2013 was promoted to Captain and became the first African-American Fire Marshal/Chief Fire Investigator.
McDuffie was well-known for performing above and beyond his duties. In 2006, he joined Georgia Search and Rescue (GSAR) whose primary mission in the coordination, development and maintenance of the resources to locate, extricate, provide immediate medical treatment to victims trapped in collapsed structures, and to conduct other life-saving operations. During his time with GSAR, he went on multiple deployments, to include the Sugar Refinery Explosion in Port Wentworth in 2008.
McDuffie was named Employee of the Year in 2006 and 2012. In 2010, he became a certified Emergency Medical Technician, a mandated police officer and has also served as an Arson Investigator and the City’s Safety Coordinator for the Local Government Risk Management Services (LGRMS).
McDuffie was a respected member of several prestigious organizations, to include the International Association of Arson Investigators, Georgia Public Safety Fire Investigators Association, Georgia Fire Investigators Association, State Local Fire Marshal and the Georgia State Fire Marshal Association.
According to McDuffie’s memorial page at firehero.org:
“Earnest ‘Moe’ McDuffie Sr. was born on his parents’ front porch on March 21, 1966, with the assistance of a police officer from Huntington Station, New York. Moe was destined to work in public service, whether as a police officer or as a firefighter. Moe was a true servant, both in his community here in Hinesville and an active member and volunteer at his local church.”
McDuffie is survived by his wife, Angela; two sons, Earnest McDuffie Jr. of Nellis Air Force Base and Edward McDuffie of Scotts Air Force Base; one daughter, Alyssa McDuffie; two brothers, James and William McDuffie; three sisters, Linda Perine, Brenda Wooten, and Cindy Roberson; and one grandchild, Campbell; along with a host of other family, relatives, and friends.
“Moe is deeply missed by his fire family at Hinesville Fire, his community, and most of all his wife of 28 years and his three children,” reads McDuffie’s online memorial page.