‘Muller will be greatly missed’: Irmo Fire District speaks out about fallen firefighter

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Published: May. 27, 2023 at 10:05 AM EDT

IRMO, S.C. (WIS) - Irmo Fire District (IFD) responded to the line-of-duty death of Firefighter James Michael Muller.

Muller was part of the crews sent from multiple fire departments to a call at Tropical Ridge Apartments off of Stoneridge Drive in Columbia on Friday afternoon. Officials said the building collapsed while they were inside working the fire.

A statement from IFD said in part:

“Firefighter James Michael Muller, 25 has been a member of the Irmo Fire District for 7 years. He was a highly respected firefighter that had a love and passion for the job. Firefighter Muller will be greatly missed amongst his firefighting family. Chief Sonefeld and the Fire District appreciate the outpouring of your thoughts and prayers during this tragic and difficult time.”

Irmo Mayor Barry Walker ordered all flags flown at town facilities to be lowered to half-staff for the next week in remembrance of Muller.

In a statement from Walker, he spoke about Muller and said in part:

“Firefighter J. Michael Muller exemplified the spirit of selflessness and bravery that defines our firefighting community. He fearlessly put himself in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of others, demonstrating unwavering dedication to his duty as a firefighter. We are forever indebted to him for his service and sacrifice.

As a respected member of the IRMO Fire Department, Firefighter J. Michael Muller played a pivotal role in safeguarding our community from the perils of fire and other emergencies. His commitment to public safety was unparalleled, and his actions will be remembered as a testament to his heroism and unwavering dedication to duty.”

Walker also said a memorial service for Muller will be planned and the town will work closely with IFD and the City of Columbia to provide necessary support to his family.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they navigate this devastating loss,” Walker stated.

According to Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins the fire — which was eventually declared a 3-alarm fire — became so strong the firefighters had to call for a mayday. That means that they had to pull all their firefighters out of the structure.

Jenkins said multiple firefighters were trapped inside and at least seven firefighters were taken to the hospital.

Two residents were rescued in the fire and taken to the hospital while 19 people have been displaced, Jenkins stated.

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