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CEDAR HILL (CBS 11 NEWS) –  Cedar Hill firefighters are giving back to a man who dedicated his career to public service.

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Joe Mobley was the first-ever paid firefighter for the city back in the 1970s. Riding right next to the siren for 30 years led to hearing loss, and Joe retired in 2003.

“This guy is Mr. Cedar hill Fire Department,” said Battalion Chief Richard Dixon.

Dixon considers Mobley a mentor, too.

Last fall, the 63-year-old underwent vertebrae surgery. As Mobley recovered in a care facility, another retired firefighter went feed the dog and check on Mobley’s home.

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

The firefighters found it in bad need of repair. There were leaks underneath, rotting floorboards, and walls with very little insulation. While the bathroom had running water, the kitchen did not.

Built in the 1904s, the home belonged to Mobley’s grandparents. Dixon says the department had no idea how badly it had fallen into disrepair.

“We didn’t know he needed help, and he’s the guy who would always help you, but never ask for help. So once we saw it, he didn’t have to ask,” said Dixon.

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This winter, the firefighters spent their time off rebuilding four of the five rooms from the studs.

The Cedar hill Firefighters’ Association led the effort. Community members donated furniture and fixtures.

“You ask most firefighters why they get in this position, and it is to help people. It hit a little closer to home because he’s one of our retired firefighters,” said firefighter Chris Bullard.

Mobley says that’s why he joined the force all those years ago.

“It was great experience to help people. They were always glad to see firemen,” said Mobley.

Most of the work is complete, but the firefighters will be back to trim the doors and finish out a closet. Someone checks in on Mobley nearly every day.

“I couldn’t live without them,” said Mobley. “It’s unbelievable the stuff they’ve done.”

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