Captain Carl Cook, a 27-year veteran with the Birmingham, AL Fire and Rescue Service, died of a heart attack Friday. The 55-year-old firefighter was completing an annual physical test, which simulates tasks firefighters perform on the fire scene, when he complained of shortness of breath and chest pain.

According to Public Information Officer Captain C.W. Mardis, firefighters on the scene began immediate assistance for Cook and he was transported by ALS to Baptist Medical Center, Princeton Hospital in Birmingham where he was pronounced dead. Cook had recently returned to duty with his doctor's clearance after care for a heart condition.

Mardis said Cooks was one of the first African-American firefighters hired in Birmingham. In that capacity he became a national leader for social change testifying before the U.S. Senate on affirmative action and becoming one of the founders of the Birmingham Professional Firefighters Association.

Mardis said he was well respected and well loved in the community where he worked with his church and the Elks of Birmingham. "He livened up the room when he walked in. He always had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone."

Cook was currently serving as Captain of Station 29. One of his latest assignments had been as an arson investigator for five years.

Cook is survived by his wife Olinda and adult son Carl Jr. Tentative arrangements for the funeral were being planned for Wednesday. All the details including memorials are still to be decided and Firehouse.Com News will post the information when it becomes available.

Birmingham Fire Rescue Service has 688 personnel in 30 stations. They run EMS transport with 17 units and protect the metro population of about 265,000.

Funeral Services were held at 1:00 p.m. on June 18 at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church.

A Capt. Carl Cook Memorial fund has been established. Donations can be sent to:

Capt. Carl Cook Memorial
c/o Birmingham Professional Firefighters Association
P.O. Box 55804
Birmingham, AL 35255