THREE FORKS – Fire Chief Todd Rummel, one of six killed in a fiery crash outside Helena, was remembered here Friday for his integrity and dedication to his work.

Rummel, 43, started with the Three Forks Fire Department in 2006, but brought experience as a firefighter in his native Pennsylvania, where he served with his father, Allen Rummel, in the Milford Township Fire Department.

“I knew Todd for 35 years,” said Mike Wachter, a close friend and fellow firefighter in Belgrade. “When I moved to Pennsylvania in 1977, he was just a young tyke there.”

Rummel moved to Three Forks in 2003, said Wachter, when he built a house and then joined the fire department in 2006. He moved quickly through the ranks of the department, becoming training officer, battalion chief and then fire chief on May 6, 2014.

“That was one of his long-term goals — to become chief,” said Wachter. “He was a good leader and he felt no matter what department he was with, he could lead them in the right direction.”

Wachter said he would remember Rummel like a little brother. “He was the kind of guy you could call at 1 a.m. stuck in a blizzard and he'd figure out how to come get you out.”

Rummel died Thursday night when the fire engine he was driving collided with a pickup truck on U.S. Highway 12 about 10 miles east of Helena. Rummel was returning the fire engine to Three Forks after having its water pumps serviced in Helena.

A Helena couple and their three children in the pickup also died, authorities said. Their names and ages have not been released.

Rummel's colleagues gathered at the fire hall Friday. They said he often led the fire department's involvement in food drives and community events.

“He was big about encouraging people. He was excited about being a firefighter, the tradition, the camaraderie,” said Brad Eastty, a firefighter in Three Forks. “He was almost like a father… he was always encouraging folks even when he was correcting them.”

“Every Halloween we'd come down here and hand out candy and treats and prizes for the kids and that was something Todd was really passionate about,” said firefighter Dave Whitesitt. “He was all about bringing the community into the fire department, especially those kids.”

Rummel was also remembered by his colleagues as the driving force behind the Junior Fire Fighter Program to encourage youth in the community to learn about the profession.

“He was an example and an encouragement for both of my sons to join the fire department, one of whom is is still active in the Central Valley Fire Department,” said Eastty.

Rummel's fellow firefighters said they would honor Rummel by continuing to get Three Forks children excited about firefighting.

A memorial page has been set up for Rummel on Facebook, drawing numerous postings. Eastty said Rummel had a close girlfriend and no children.

Memorial services for Rummel are set for June 25 at the Three Forks High School.