BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – He was known as “Florky” to family and friends. He was an important member of the Belforest Volunteer Fire Department who will be hard to replace.

“Florky was larger than life. He was much embedded in everything that we do here at the station. He was our resident mechanic, our mentor, our treasurer at one point,” said Belforest Volunteer Fire Department’s board president Elizabeth Hayes.

Belforest volunteer firefighters said goodbye to one of their own Monday. Deputy Chief Michael Florkiewicz was laid to rest at the Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spanish Fort. His impact throughout Baldwin County was felt long before he joined the department in 2018.

“He had relationships with firefighters in Spanish Fort, Silverhill, Loxley, Daphne, all of the departments in the surrounding areas. He interacted with them, trained with them and helped train and mentor their personnel as well,” said Chief John Hotchkiss.

The army veteran was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Cholangiocarcinoma, in March of this year. Even during treatment Florky stayed connected with his work family and continued doing what he loved.

“We do truly become a very tight family group. Michael was a core portion of that organization,” added Hotchkiss.

The department said in 2021 Florky responded to more than 85% of the department’s service calls. Hayes says that’s a high response for a volunteer, but it shows his passion and Florky’s dedication for helping others.

“We’re going to feel it for a long time. We’ve already talked about that there’s going to be probably years from now things that are like who’s taking care of this and that and then we’re like oh that was probably Florky, so we’re going to have to step it up and try to do it justice like he did,” she explained. “He was an inspiration to a lot of our younger firefighters coming into the fire service, a voice there to help guide them,” added Chief Hotchkiss.