By Angela Davis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The small Minnesota town of Mayer is mourning the sudden loss of a firefighter.

Jeff Vollmer’s heart stopped early Tuesday morning at his home. The 40-year-old husband and father’s death came just hours after taking part in a physically-challenging training exercise.

The Mayer fire chief says the loss should be considered in the line of duty.

The sadness surrounding the Mayer Fire Department is profound as the community comes to terms with the unexpected death of a volunteer firefighter.

jeff vollmer Minnesota Town Mourns Loss Of Firefighter

Jeff Vollmer (credit: CBS)

“We got dispatched to his house for a 40-year-old man who was not breathing,” Mayer Fire Chief Rod Maetzold said.

His heart was no longer beating — Jeff Vollmer had apparently gone into cardiac arrest.

“It was one of my family,” Maetzold said.

The fire chief says Vollmer and two dozen other firefighters participated in training exercises Monday night to practice emergency medical rescues, lifting people and carrying them out of tight spaces.

“We were doing back-boarding patient care, as far as loading them on to a gurney or a backboard,” Maetzold said. “He didn’t seem like he was struggling. … He was fine. In fact, after the training we had an officers meeting that he was at, and he seemed OK.”

But hours after he went to bed, Jeff Vollmer died.

A state fire official says because Vollmer went into cardiac arrest within 24 hours of strenuous training that was out of his normal routine, his death will likely be classified as in the line-of-duty, making his wife and two daughters eligible for state and federal survivor benefits.

Because of Vollmer’s age, a medical examiner is performing an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. We do know his father survived a heart attack a few years ago.

Donations to the family can be made through Home Bank of Waconia. The funeral for Jeff Vollmer will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. in the auditorium of Mayer Lutheran High School.

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