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Firefighters honoring fallen brother with 24-hour vigil

 BRANDON (AP) — Volunteer firefighters are keeping an around-the-clock vigil outside the funeral home handling the remains of a Valley Springs fireman who died in the line of duty.

Firefighters will take turns standing watch in a fire truck in eight-hour shifts outside George Boom Funeral Home in Sioux Falls until weekend services in Brandon for Steven Ackerman.

"It's about our brother, our fellow firefighter, not being alone," Valley Springs volunteer firefighter Rick Mitchell told KELO-TV.

Ackerman, 38, died Sunday while fighting a house fire in Brandon that also killed 47-year-old homeowner David Smith. Ackerman is the 43rd firefighter to die in the line of duty in South Dakota since 1924, and only the 22nd volunteer firefighter to be killed, according to the South Dakota Firefighters Association.

Ackerman was a volunteer firefighter for 14 years, while also working with a family heating and cooling business and serving on the Valley Springs planning and zoning commission.

"He was always the first one on a call, the first one in the engine and the first one on the hose," Mitchell told the Argus Leader newspaper. "He thought of others first and his needs second."

Visitation for Ackerman is 12-5 p.m. Saturday at the George Boom Funeral Chapel in Brandon. His funeral is 2 p.m. Sunday at the Brandon Valley High School gymnasium. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff Sunday to honor him.

There will be a large turnout of firefighters at both the visitation and the funeral, Firefighters Association President Charlie Kludt told the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan newspaper.

"The memorial for Steve Ackerman is going to be huge," he said.

Smith's funeral was being held Thursday night at the Heartland Funeral Home in Brandon.

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