HOMESTEAD (KDKA) — It was a sad day in Homestead where the community said goodbye to their beloved, long-time fire chief.

Chief William Purifoy led the Homestead Volunteer Fire Department for 17 years.

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Many wept as they said farewell to Big Bill, who was six-foot-eight and a former football player.

On Saturday, his fellow firefighters gave a proper goodbye to a man who they say was also a father figure to them.

“[He] taught me to be a man; he was a leading man role in my life,” said Rondel Thomas, of the Homestead Volunteer Fire Department. “Me and his son grew up together through high school. He taught me how to fight fires, taught me how to be a gentleman. Taught me to be a leader in the community.”

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They say they will carry on Purifoy’s legacy by helping others in the community.

“He’s just a big teddy bear. We love him,” said Timothy Eads, of of the Homestead Volunteer Fire Department. “He loves us, we love him, everything he did for the community.”

Purifoy was also a detective at the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office. He’s a former cop, too, and once took a bullet in the line of duty.

He died on Monday from heart disease at the age of 53.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Jeff Roupe)

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Jeff Roupe)

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