GODFREY, IL - The widow of a fallen Godfrey firefighter shares her story with Fox 2/News 11. Captain Jake Ringering of the Godfrey Fire Protection District was killed in the line of duty this spring.
Allison Ringering said she spent half of her life with her husband, and Ringering spent nearly half of his life fulfilling his calling as a firefighter. When it came to his two loves, family always came first.
Ringering first met Allison in high school. The two had mutual friends became fast friends themselves.
The couple dated for seven years before marrying in 2009. By the time they celebrated their 10 year wedding anniversary in 2019, the Ringerings had three children - Nora, 9, Elaina, 5, and Logan, 2 - a home in Godfrey.
Ringering, a firefighter, and Allison, a school teacher, were both active in their church and each making an impact in their community.
"I had a great guy," said Allison. "He was wonderful to me."
Ringering was a firefighter for 18 years. He was a leader in his department, serving as a captain and a technical rescue officer. He was also an instructor Lewis and Clark Community College and committed to keeping his fellow firefighters safe.
As the wife of a first responder, Allison said they had had the hard conversations. She believes her husband tried to shield her from the dangers of his job as best he could.
Tuesday, March 5 started like so many others, Allison said. They woke up, got ready for work, and got their girls ready for school.
"We always had time together before he left for work, and we had a really good morning, so I go back to that a lot," said Allison.
They texted throughout the day as they often did, Allison said. Ringering told her they got a fire call and where he was headed, and she replied.
That was the last communication they shared.
The fire started around 4:15 p.m. in a brick house on Culp Lane in Fosterburg. Aid was requested from crews in Bethalto, Brighton, Cottage Hills, Dorsey and Godfrey.
According to fire investigators, while crews were fighting the fire, a portion of the outer wall collapsed. Ringering, 37, was killed and three other firefighters were injured.
Allison learned the news when she got home from work and got the knock at the front door.
Allison never questioned her husband's love for their family, but she also knew how much he loved his job. In the wake of his death, it became clear which was his true love.
"He would always tell all of the guys that, 'Your family comes first,' and 'No matter what's going on at the fire department, if you need to take care of your family, they're your number one priority,'" said Allison. "I've had a lot of the guys just tell me that that's their favorite memory of Jake. That you always put your family first."
Allison said she is grateful for the support she and the kids have received from other first responders, the community, and their church, and for the man whose memory is still deeply rooted in their hearts.
"I'm just really proud of him. I'm proud of the man that he was, of the husband and father that he was, and I'm really proud that he was able to have such a powerful impact on so many people's lives."
BackStoppers is supporting the Ringering family. (https://backstoppers.org/assisting-the-family-of-captain-jacob-ringering/)
Capt. Ringering is one of four fallen first responders who will be honored on Wednesday, October 23 during the St. Louis Hero Network's (https://www.facebook.com/stlheronetwork/) "Fall Night for the Fallen," (https://www.facebook.com/events/708312729652234/) a bi-state dine out event with more than 150 restaurants participating. Each restaurant will decide what percentage of the proceeds will go directly to the Ringering family as well as the families of Illinois State Trooper Nick Hopkins, North County Police Cooperative Officer Michael Langsdorf, and Maryland Heights Fire Protection District firefighter/paramedic Chris Moore.
"These men and women that put on their uniform every single day, and they go to a job that they never know what to expect. It could be a quiet shift, or they could walk into danger. They do it without question. They do it because they have a passion for it, and they do it because they love their job and they're called to help people. I think that just speaks immensely about their love and their commitment for their communities," said Allison. "They have a family at home that loves them and supports them, and when they're gone and when they're away, we are serving right along with them."