TEMPE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Before Tempe fire Chief Greg Ruiz got the phone call Sunday morning that would change his life, he had another phone call Thursday night that he'll remember forever.
"It's a fire chief's nightmare, you don't want to lose any member, whether it's in the line of duty or off-duty, they're a family member," he said.
He didn't know it would be the last time he'd speak with fire Capt. Kyle Brayer, but if he could still speak to his brother-in-service, he'd say this:
"What I'd tell him? I'd tell him this; don't call me chief! That's the Marine in him. He'd call me chief and I'd tell him, Greg, and he'd say chief and he always said chief, probably the one thing I said over and over to him," Ruiz said. "I talked to him Thursday night. It started as a business phone call, but turned personal and I cherish that phone call."
Ruiz says Kyle accomplished more in his 34 years on Earth than most people do in a lifetime. The Marine veteran served in Iraq, was a fitness entrepreneur, and loved his family and community.
"It's so important to recognize the accomplishments that Kyle's done in his 34 years of life," Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said. "With that being said, he's just a tremendous asset of so many words to be described of what he's accomplished.
The loss will be deep and the journey to healing will be long, but members of the Tempe Fire Department say it's their duty and honor to carry on the legacy that Kyle leaves behind.
"How do you get over the loss of a loved one? How do you get over the loss of a family member?" Chief Ruiz said. "A third of their life is spent in that building, going on calls. The connection we have, it set a tailspin that you know we're gonna get through this, we're going to rise above this, but it's difficult to lose a family member."