TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. -- The Central Alexander Fire Department is remembering their dear friend and fellow firefighter Eric Pennell.  He died while on duty at the fire station on Monday.

Pennell served the community as a firefighter for over 30 years and just celebrated his birthday at the beginning of the month.  He was happily married to his wife Amy.  Everyone in the community knew Pennell as "Bubba."

"Bubba was, I don't want to say an institution in this community, but he was a fixture," said Karyn Yaussy.

It's never easy saying goodbye to a friend, especially a guy like Bubba.  He was a dedicated firefighter, husband and car lover.

He worked full-time for the Alexander County Sheriff's Office as a 911 dispatcher.

He died Monday doing what he loved, being at the fire station cleaning and maintaining the fire trucks.

"He's dedicated to making sure the trucks and equipment were in tip top shape so that everybody would always be safe," Yaussy said.  " And everybody would always come home and I think that what happened yesterday is the hardest part. He's not coming home anymore."

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of his death.  The community is planning a procession for when he returns to Taylorsville from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The funeral will be at Millersville Baptist Church. No date has been set yet.