- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Ed Moyer was working on a car in the basement of his home in 1984 when a gas leak sparked and started a fire. Moyer was engulfed in the flames and spent six months recovering in the burn unit at UAB Hospital.

He suffered burns over 93 percent of his body, and had skin grafts on 87 percent of his body. “He was the most severely burned patient that UAB ever had at the time,” said his wife, Carol Moyer.

But he felt inspired by the encouragement of the caregivers there during his recovery. He wanted to encourage people too. After recovering, he helped Dr. Alan Dimick start an organization called BURNS, a support group for other burn survivors.

“He told them they weren’t victims, they were survivors,” Carol said. “There is life after this. You will get through this if you keep a positive outlook. Be positive about this. Turn it into something positive. He never let it stop him from anything.”

In 2000, Moyer began to volunteer for the Center Point Fire District. He was chosen as the first Chief of the Volunteers for the Center Point Fire Department. “He said it was his way to pay back,” Center Point Fire Chief Donnie West said.

Moyer and his wife, Carol, married for 47 years, continued to serve the fire department until his death. They took online certification classes to learn more about emergency response work. The Moyers responded to fire calls driving a truck called the Service Support Unit, carrying oxygen tanks, generators, lights and other supplies.

“They were so dependable, we gave them a radio and we would call them out with the first responders to the scene,” West said. They’re just special people. They believed in what we do. They believe in serving the citizens.”

Moyer died on March 17. He was 74.

Center Point Battalion Chief Gene Coleman recalls the department asking for community involvement.

“We were just looking for volunteers,” Coleman said. “They joined on. They created our service unit. His primary mission was not to fight fire, but to be a support unit for firefighters. They would bring Gatorade, cold towels and work to assist the firefighters.”

When the fire department responded to a fire, so did Moyer. “He’d be one of the first to help respond,” Coleman said. “He worked alongside us, not looking for recognition. He just wanted to help.”

With BURNS, Moyer went to visit other burn victims, trying to inspire them. “He was always smiling,” Coleman said. “He went around and did community burn education for survivors.”

Despite carrying scars from his burn injuries, he remained optimistic, Coleman said. “I don’t think that slowed him down,” Coleman said. “He was always happy, always smiling. He didn’t let that bother him. He helped folks who had been through the same situation he’d been in.”

Moyer was born in New Jersey, moved to Florida, then to Alabama in 1975. He retired from American Hoechst, where he sold equipment and supplies for printing presses for 25 years.

He coached youth soccer teams at the Northeast YMCA, where he taught sportsmanship as the most important lesson in sports. He was a youth soccer referee for ten years.

“He no longer had sweat glands,” Carol said. “He had to be overly cautious. He was a referee, running up and down the field. It was extremely difficult for him.”

Moyer played on a men’s league soccer team. He also owned a drag-racing car that he raced at area race tracks.

Because of his work with BURNS and the Center Point Fire Department, he was awarded the Wells Fargo Second Half Champions Award, which recognizes significant accomplishments of individuals over the age of fifty. “Because of the fire department and what they do, and their efforts, I’m still around,” Moyer said in a video made for the awards ceremony. “And we just wanted to give back.”

Over the past two years, Coleman had battled cancer, but stayed optimistic. “Ed loved life, and lived every day of it with happiness and anticipation even through his sickness,” Carol said. “He always said ‘don’t cry for me, I had a great life.’”

“He was a great community servant,” Coleman said. “We hated to lose him.”

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