THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) - Hundreds of emergency responders marched in a procession Saturday to the memorial service for a veteran Houston firefighter who died battling a house blaze this week.

Co-workers called 46-year-old Daniel Groover a hero and a dedicated firefighter during the service in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands.

We will never forget him, Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison said. Groover, a 21-year veteran of the Houston Fire Department, died Wednesday morning when he collapsed after responding to a fire in a vacant two-story house in Kingwood. Fellow firefighters found him inside the structure on the second floor.

He was remembered at the service as an incredible cook whose signature dishes were fried chicken and baby back ribs. Also noted were his dry wit and his skill at crochet, something he picked up while he was recovering from an injury.

It was his dedication to helping others that had earned him the nickname Doc.

He was a dedicated paramedic firefighter, said Bryan Sky-Eagle, president of Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. He was a man full of life, and is gone too quickly.

He made a heroic effort to protect our lives and our property, he said.

Speakers at the memorial service said Groover was dedicated to serving others as a firefighter and noted that he had accumulated about 3,000 hours of time off that was unused.

At the service, Mayor Annise Parker thanked the attendees for honoring Groover.

Ours is a city that unites in times of crisis, it is a city that has a big heart and it is a city that cares deeply about its emergency responders, Parker said. Daniel Groover was a good man, a good firefighter and an excellent representative of this city.

Groover is survived by his wife, three adult sons, three grandchildren and his parents.

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