The community of Valley Springs continues to come to terms with the loss of one of their volunteer firefighters, Steven Ackerman, who passed away in a house fire in the 100 block of west Fir Street in Brandon Sunday April 12, 2015.

Nearly everyone in Valley Springs can tell you about knowing him as a neighbor, a kid they went to school with, or even how Steve responded to an emergency call and helped them personally.

Valley Springs Fire Chief Don Johnson is sorting through the decades of memories.

"He was always willing to help, always there when we needed to get something done and just a great kid. It's tough. He was with us 14 years on the fire department and I've known him way longer than that. I knew him when he was in school with my kids."

 

Johnson recalls two firefighters entering the burning home that night, followed by Ackerman.  There was a huge ball of fire and he speculates that could be a moment when the floor gave way and Ackerman feel the the basement.  The two other firefighters came back out. Ackerman did not.

Dawn Ackerman grew up with her cousin Steve in Valley Springs.

"It doesn't surprise me that he was a volunteer firefighter because from the time he was a little boy, he had the most amazingly generous spirit.  His huge heart and warmth was something we all knew in my family. He may have admired that in my own father was a volunteer firefighter as well.  Steve, his brother and my brother were major pals.

When he came out here to Colorado, he had my sister and I laughing so much.  He was the life of the party and we had such a good time with him. You know, when we were little kids it was different because of the age difference between us all and we were so glad that we could forge that bond with him."

The Facebook page Lights on for Firefighter Steven Ackerman invites people to turn on their porch lights to honor the fallen hero on Sunday April 19th, 2015.  Even in the early hours of Tuesday morning April 14, 2105, many homes were already lit up, some with lights changed to various hues of blue and red in his honor.

Governor Dennis Daugaard also has ordered that flags fly at half staff on Sunday in Ackerman's honor. The commemoration will begin at 8:00 AM and end at sunset.