“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,” the Irmo Fire Department wrote in a May 27, 2023, statement announcing Muller’s death. “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.”
According to WLTX, Muller died in a structure collapse while fighting an apartment fire.
“On behalf of the Irmo Fire District and our extended fire family, we would like to thank the community for the outpouring of support following the loss of one of our own. We may not be able to respond to each of you individually, but know that your messages of support are comforting,” the Irmo Fire Department wrote in a second statement.
The department wrote that the Irmo Fire Foundation is accepting donations on behalf of the Muller family. “Checks can be made out to the Irmo Fire Foundation, and mailed to Irmo Fire Headquarters. Please leave a memo ‘In Memory of James Muller.'” The online link is here.
Here’s what you need to know:
James Muller Died During a ‘Structural Collapse’ That Also Injured 3 Other Members of the Irmo Fire District
On May 27, 2023, the Irmo Fire Department announced Muller’s death. “It is with great sadness that Chief Mike Sonefeld and the Officers and Members of the Irmo Fire District announce the death of an on-duty firefighter due to a structural collapse during fire suppression efforts yesterday afternoon,” the statement, posted to the department’s Facebook page, read.
“Fire protection services from multiple fire departments were performing interior suppression activities when this tragedy occurred. Irmo was assigned to this call as an automatic aid response. More details of the fire will be forthcoming when appropriate,” it says. “Three members from the Irmo Fire District were transported to the hospital after the event, the other two firefighters have been released from the hospital.”
The Columbia Fire Department wrote on Facebook, “We mourn together. Just minutes ago our crews lined streets leading to I-126 in Columbia as fallen Irmo Fire District firefighter James Michael Muller was carried in a procession out of the city.”
The post continued, “We were joined by our partners at Richland County EMS, Columbia Police Department and other agencies and citizens to pay tribute to a hero who gave everything in the line of duty.”
Tributes Flowed for James Muller, Who Was Described as an ‘Inspiration’
Brandi Murray was one of the people writing tributes to Muller on Facebook. “Today an exceptional man made the ultimate sacrifice. He was an inspiration to all us men and women in this field… nationwide,” she wrote. “Yesterday evening, 25-year-old James Muller, an Irmo firefighter, died in the line of duty. An apartment building was on fire. Part of it collapsed on him. He was trapped.”
According to Murray, “Muller leaves a beautiful Wife and an amazing little Son behind. The prayers of thousands are with them I’m sure, as he left an impact all over this country…. leading and training others. His legacy will continue on.
Rest easy Brother, the bells will be silent tonight. 💔”
“I’m proud of him, the fact that he was eager to do that, to run into harm’s way to help those people,” Irmo Mayor Barry Walker said to WLTX. “His end-of-watch was not in vain, his end-of-watch saved 19 families that were in harm’s way.”
On Facebook, James Muller, Who Was Married, Shared Posts About Firefighting & His Love for His Wife
On Facebook, Muller wrote that he “works at Irmo Fire District” and was a “Public Safety Officer at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.” He went to Lexington High School in Lexington, South Carolina, lived in Lexington, was from Monroe Georgia, and was married to wife, Emma Muller.
In 2022, he wrote an anniversary post to his wife: “Happy third wedding anniversary to my best friend. 6 years together total, feels just like yesterday. This women is my rock and I would not be half the man I am without her by my side. She is constantly pushing and supporting me in all aspects of life, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world !”
In 2021, he wrote, “Happy birthday to my amazing wife! Thanks for everything you do for our family! You are everything a man can dream of in a wife and a wonderful mother. Can’t wait to get home tonight I love you!”
His wife’s Facebook page is also filled with pictures of her husband.