A veteran Fort Dodge firefighter known for his sense of humor and his union work on behalf of his colleagues died suddenly Friday morning.
Tom Peart collapsed while exercising at home not long before his shift was to begin at 7 a.m. Friday, according to Fire Chief Kent Hulett. He said Peart was pronounced dead at Trinity Regional Medical Center at 7:04 a.m. He was 48.
Funeral services are pending with Laufersweiler-Sievers Funeral Home in Fort Dodge.
Peart joined the Fire Department in October 1991, and served for 22 years.
"Tom was a caring firefighter, husband and father who was deeply concerned about the city as a whole, his brothers in the Fire Department, his boys that he adored and the wife that he worshipped," said Fire Department Capt. Steve Teske.
Peart is survived by his wife, Kelsey, and two sons, Keaton and Kade.
Another Fire Department captain, Steve Hergenreter, recalled three blazes at which Peart pulled people out of burning buildings. One of those fires was the February 1993 blaze that destroyed the Eilers Hotel by the City Square. The other fires at which Peart made rescues were at an apartment building on South 13th Street that was later knocked down to make room for the new Fareway store and a house in the 1900 block of Third Avenue South.
Hergenreter added that Peart saved many lives when responding to medical emergencies.
"Tom touched a lot of people's lives," he said.
In addition to his regular duties, Peart was the president of International Association of Firefighters Local 622, which is the union representing Fort Dodge firefighters.
"He had a real good sense of humor," Hulett said Friday afternoon. "He was a very competent firefighter and as union president, I found him very easy to work with on labor-management issues. We're all going to miss him."
Teske, who commands the shift to which Peart was assigned, said that he was able to crack jokes and provide good advice.
"He was always making light of things, but even though he was a joker he always had a good read on things," Teske said. "He was one of the guys I confided in."
Former Fire Chief John Webster, who retired in 2009, said Peart always acted for the "betterment of the group."
"I believe he should remembered as a good, hard-working firefighter," Webster said.
Away from work, Peart was a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge, according to Webster. He said Peart would wrestle with the bigger wrestlers during practices.
"He would be tough to move off the mat," Webster said.
Peart met firefighters from around the country at training programs and other events. Now, some of those firefighters are sending messages of condolence, according to Hergenreter.
"I don't think anybody who met Tom ever forgot him," he said.