PORTAGE PARK — Mashawn Plummer smiles in a portrait that hangs above the bench he used to sit on outside the Engine 94 firehouse, where he’d greet neighborhood dogs and passersby.
Plummer died in December while battling a Belmont Cragin fire that killed another man and badly injured two other people. He had just marked his one-year anniversary with the Fire Department and had worked at the Portage Park firehouse for about five months, Engine 94 Captain John Ciszek said.
To honor Plummer’s life and service, Ciszek and other firefighters have kept his memory alive at the cozy firehouse with portraits, illustrations, plaques and cards that line the walls of Engine 94’s living room.
But the Portage Park crew wants a more permanent memorial for Plummer, who was one of the youngest firefighters at the house at just 30 years old. His coworkers are selling T-shirts to remember him. They have the engine’s logo on the front and Plummer’s signature phrase — “Make them all proud” — on the back.
Money raised from the T-shirts will go toward creating a memorial outside of the station for Plummer, said firefighter Robert “Bob” Brady, who is organizing the T-shirt sale.
Plans for the memorial are in the works, but the crew would like it to include a bronze statue of boots, a coat and a helmet with a plaque near the outdoor bench.
“He was always on that bench feeding the dogs,” Brady said. “… We all agreed on putting something out there for Plummer.”
Brady has been in contact with local artists and is looking into pricing for the memorial, which he hopes will be completed by the anniversary of Plummer’s death.
Ciszek and Brady were not on Plummer’s shift and only worked with him once, but they would chat in between shifts and said Plummer was always eager to be part of the team.
“He was always smiling and was happy to lend a hand,” Ciszek said. “He was so willing to learn.”
For Brady, who has been a firefighter for 16 years, Plummer’s death was emotional. It didn’t fully hit him until after Plummer’s funeral, which was attended by hundreds of family members, friends and firefighters. Other vigils and prayer services were held in honor of Plummer outside the firehouse.
“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Brady said of attending Plummer’s funeral. “The family only gets one chance to say goodbye.”
Plummer grew up in Englewood and loved comic books, nature and music. He was a big fan of the White Sox and the Bears and played football at Quincy University. He always wanted a career of service, which led him to the Fire Department, his family wrote in his obituary.
“He truly loved being a firefighter and EMT,” his family wrote. “The world is a safer place because [the Fire Department] allowed a superhero to do what he loved.”
Plummer’s firehouse mates want to make him proud — just like he made his family, friends and the department proud, Brady said.
T-shirts are $20 for small, medium, large and extra-large and $25 for 2XL, 3XL or 4XL. People who want to buy a shirt and support the memorial effort can contact Brady at 847-344-9303. Orders are cash only and must be placed by Feb. 28.
If people would like to donate to the Mashawn Plummer Memorial Fund, checks can be sent out to the office of the fire chaplain at 4200 N. Austin Ave. and made out to Father Tom Mulcrone. In the memo of the check, write, “Mashawn Plummer Fund.”
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