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'Fearless' North Little Rock firefighter, veteran dies from covid

by Neal Earley | September 21, 2021 at 7:25 a.m.
A NEBCO Fire Department truck is shown in this 2017 file photo.

North Little Rock firefighter and Iraq War veteran Aaron "Scott" Chassells died Saturday after complications from covid-19. He was 48.

Chassells, known to friends and family as "Scott," joined the North Little Rock's fire department in 1999, eventually working his way up to the rank of lieutenant where he served as one of the leaders at Fire Station No. 6.

As a member of the Arkansas National Guard, Chassells served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 to 2005.

In a statement Monday, Chassells' family said the firefighter and veteran served "with honor, bravery and without exception to anyone in need."

"The world and more specifically the city of North Little Rock has lost a hero and we have lost the glue that held our family together," the family said in the statement.

North Little Rock Fire Chief Gerald Tucker posted a statement Saturday on Facebook announcing Chassells' death and asking "Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers."

"Please be there for each other in these hard times. Together we can stay stronger. R.I.P. Scott my brother. We'll take it from here," Tucker wrote.

North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff Saturday at city buildings in honor of Chassells.

Dustin Free, assistant fire marshal with the North Little Fire Department, called Chassells a "brother," saying his death hit the fire department hard.

"As all members of this fire department, we're a family," Free said. "When we lose one of our own, it's the same hurt and the same feeling that anybody has when they lose a family member."

Free, who had known Chassells for 22 years, called his friend "the firefighter that you wanted on the job on any fire with you."

"He was fearless," Free said. "He took the job serious. He loved doing his work. He was great to hang out with outside of, you know, the actual work part, just sitting around the fire station."

Before joining the North Little Rock Fire Department, Chassells worked for an ambulance service in Searcy.

In addition to North Little Rock, Chassells also worked for his hometown fire department in Sherwood. While Chassells was originally from Sherwood, he spent most of his time growing up in North Little Rock.

In a June interview with the fire department, Chassells said "As long as I can remember I have told my family that I wanted to be a firefighter," and that talking to members of the public was the favorite part of his job.

During that interview, posted to the fire department's Facebook page, Free asked Chassells what he wanted to be known for when he left the job.

"My love for God and the community," Chassells said. "My compassion for the people that I have served throughout my career. I also want to be remembered by the people I work with that I treated everybody fairly."

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