The Redding Fire Department is mourning the sudden loss of its beloved fire chief who died early Monday morning.
The cause of Chief Gerry Gray’s death is unknown at this time but the Redding Firefighters Facebook page posted Monday:
"It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Fire Chief Gerry Gray. Chief Gray passed away in his sleep early Monday July 2nd. At this time the Redding Fire Department family is grieving this sudden loss."
The news of Gray's sudden passing came as a shock to many who knew him.
“Obviously, we're shocked, stunned saddened with the loss of Chief Gray,” Redding City Manager Barry Tippin said. “You know it certainly wasn't anything any of us expected to wake up to on a Monday morning.”
And it was the same for vice president of the Redding Professional Firefighters Association Mike Lowery.
“It's really sudden. It was a huge shock for us. You know, I've enjoyed having a good working relationship as far as the union side you know with management with Chief Gray for quite a long time,”
But for many, Gray was more than just a coworker or a boss.
For many, he was a friend.
“You know, you work with somebody day in and day out,” Tippin said. “You develop personal relationships with them. Some more than others. And Gerry was the sort of individual that he gave you his all all the time. He was somebody you knew would always be there.”
And anytime firefighters had an issue, professional or personal, Gray’s door was open.
“I've been going through some tough times personally lately,” Lowery said. “And I went and knocked on his door. he probably gave me some of the best advice I've ever had. And I'm lucky I got the chance to thank him for that.”
Tippin says Chief Gray joined the Redding Fire Department in 2008 as a battalion chief.
He says Chief Gray is most remembered by many for his kindness but also his use of social media.
“He blended a little bit between his professional tweeting and his personal tweeting,” Tippin said. “And they were from the same account. And I think that's what really personalized him for a lot of people.”
Outside of City Hall and fire stations around Redding, flags are at half staff in remembrance of Chief Gray.
Tippin says right now everyone is still in shock, but the fire department needs a leader.
He said the city will name an interim fire chief in the near future, and it’ll take them a little longer to find someone to fill Gray’s position.
Gray was 54 years old.
No word yet on when funeral services will be held.