The Fort Wayne Fire Department lost “a good man and a good firefighter” when Capt. Eric Balliet, a 19-year-veteran, died Wednesday leading a training exercise, a fire department spokesman said Thursday.
Although an autopsy had not been completed, Deputy Chief Adam O'Connor said Balliet, 41, suffered a heart attack.
Balliet was at the former Quaker State & Lube building on Coliseum Boulevard West leading a crew through physically demanding maneuvers when he died, according to Jeremy Bush, president of the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters.
Balliet was promoted to captain in November 2005 to work in the fire investigation division and was a former lieutenant in the combat division.
Balliet was featured in a Journal Gazette story published July 11, 2013, on stay-at-home fathers.
Although he was a working father, Balliet said he was often the primary parent for his 4-year-old twins, Lucas and Alyssa, while his wife worked as a 911 dispatcher.
Balliet said in the article he worked mostly 24-hour shifts and sometime 48 hours but wanted to be with his children “before 4 years old turns into 24.”
“Every parent I've spoken to said cherish the time, because it flies by. When you're in the moment it doesn't seem like it's flying by, but I can't believe we're four years into this already. ... When they're 18, or 15, when they're doing their activities and you don't see them in the events and you're trying to rush to get a quick sandwich before you're going to baseball or soccer or whatever, when life becomes hectic, I can sit here and say I cherished those moments when they were young and that I've gotten in more of those moments than the average father who works and doesn't have the time to stay home with their children during the day and be that father figure on a daily basis.”
Balliet's body was to be taken to D.O. McComb's Tribute Center, 2307 W. Main St. on Thursday.