SPOTSWOOD - The community of Spotswood is mourning the loss of a longtime firefighter.

Joseph Bove, 53, died at his home Thursday night just after responding to a call of a natural gas leak.

Fellow volunteer firefighters hung black and purple bunting on the front of their firehouse this morning, and the flag was flying at half-staff.

Friends at the firehouse say their tight-knit department is taking it hard.

"Joe's been here since 1989," says Capt. Kevin Meade. "He was chief of this fire company for three years in the 90s. Good friends with the chief, good friends with all of us. And he'll be sadly missed, sadly missed."

Meade says the firefighter's death is considered to have been "in the line of duty" because it occurred within 24 hours of responding to an emergency call.

Bove leaves behind a wife and three children, the youngest in high school.