DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Hundreds of firefighters will pay their respects on Wednesday for a fallen fire chief. Michael Burns from the Cockrell Hill Fire Department died last week after a two-year battle with cancer. The small fire department is expecting at least 1,500 people at his funeral.

The 42-year-old began his career as an attendant with Apollo Ambulance when he was just 17 years old. He joined the Cockrell Hill Fire Department in 2001 and quickly advanced to become the department’s chief. “He was our dad,” said battalion chief Kevin Devine. “His main objective and main goal, everyday, was everybody goes home to their families.”

The Cockrell Hill Fire Department is an all-volunteer organization. Burns was also a flight medic for Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

Burns was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. When co-workers did not hear from him last week, they requested a welfare check, and found that Burns had died in his home on Friday.

The funeral is being held at The Potter’s House in Dallas.

“He was a larger-than-life guy. He was hard-nosed, but very caring,” Devine recalled. “He would help anybody. He would give them the shirt off his back, the last piece of food off his plate. There’s no telling what that man would have done just to help somebody else out.”

Also Check Out: