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Friends remember Locke firefighter who dies after heart attack

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

Since he was a teen, Chris Phillips always knew he wanted to be a firefighter and since the age of 16, he worked toward that goal. Phillips, 41, a fire lieutenant with Locke Fire Department, died early Thursday morning of an apparent heart attack, just hours after responding to a fatal vehicle crash the day before.

Phillips began with Locke Fire Department on July 14 where he was a fulltime lieutenant. Phillips had responded with the fire department Wednesday afternoon to an Edmiston Road car crash. He’d gone home, Locke Fire Chief Rusty Alexander said, and around 1 a.m. he had a “cardiac event.”

Phillips had also been an assistant fire chief with Churchland Fire Department in Linwood before joining Locke full time. Prior to working with Churchland, Phillips worked with the city of Lexington for about 12 years as a firefighter. He’d also been employed at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center as a security guard before working at Locke Fire Department.

Phillips began in the fire service at the age of 16 as a junior firefighter for the Tyro Rural Fire Department.

“He had a made a big impact in the short time he was here. He was a great leader in the Churchland Fire Department,” Alexander said.

Ryan Swink, a longtime friend and assistant fire chief at Churchland said Phillips was “full of life” and lived for the fire department.

“He was always here and wanted to do the training,” Swink said.

The two men were friends since junior high school. Swink said his friend’s only dream was being a fireman.

“It’s a great loss,” Swink said.

He leaves behind a wife, Elisabeth, and a daughter.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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