Fridley fire chief Mike Spencer laid to rest

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On Tuesday, the Fridley community said goodbye to its fallen fire chief.

Mike Spencer was laid to rest; he died earlier this month following a medical emergency. Chief Spencer joined the Fridley Fire Department in 2006 before becoming chief last year.

A devoted husband and father, a leader and the life of the party is how many described Spencer.

"He was ‘Spenc’ to me," said Jeff Schissler, Spencer’s childhood friend.

Schissler fought back tears during Tuesday’s eulogy.

"When I received the news of Mike’s passing, a piece of my heart went with him. He’ll always remain in my heart, and he will never be forgotten," Schissler said.

Fridley Fire Chief Mike Spencer dies unexpectedly

Chief Spencer passed away unexpectedly at his home on Sept. 13, just before his 54th birthday. Less than 24 hours earlier, he responded to a structure fire.

"It’s really difficult to lose anyone but when you lose your leader, it’s even that much more difficult," said Jay Wood, president of the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation.

The Minnesota Fire Service Foundation helped organize Tuesday’s service. Wood said they work to spread awareness about the three main causes of death in the fire service.

"They work hard to get the word out to firefighters across the state and family members across the state about the causes of cancer, cardiac issues and emotional trauma from PTSD," Wood said.

Within the force, they’re leaning on each other.

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"We’ve helped them by communicating and processing this with them," said Walter Messer, with the Fridley Fire Department.

A Navy veteran and later a man devoted to his community, Chief Spencer dedicated his life to serving others.

"Mike was bigger than life," Messer said.

Gone too soon, but his impact lives on.

"We will try and remind ourselves of the happy times we had. We know we can’t be with you now, and you can’t be with us but safe inside our heart you will stay," Schissler said.

Spencer is the second fire chief in Minnesota to die in the line of duty this year.