A firefighter who drowned at a Nova Scotia waterfall while saving his young son from a whirlpool is being remembered by his family as a hero.

Sam London, a 38-year-old father of three, was swimming with his family Tuesday afternoon at Drysdale Falls, a popular swimming spot with a 12-metre waterfall, when his son suddenly became swept up by a powerful current.

London jumped into the water and successfully rescued the boy, but he became trapped in the undercurrent himself, his father-in-law said.

Police said a family member then tried to save London, but they were unable. He died at the scene.

London is survived by his wife, Tracy, and their three children: Gabriel, Nick and Joe.

Family members are reeling from the sudden loss, said London’s father-in-law, Mike Smith.

“I’ve unfortunately had to make some of those phone calls that nobody wants to make, and the response was what you could never imagine,” Smith told CTV Atlantic. “He was a hero father, a hero husband, son-in-law hero.”

London joined Halifax fire 15 years ago. At the fire station where he worked, the flag was lowered to half-mast on Thursday. A representative from the firefighters union said they’re working to support the family.

“Our thoughts are with Sam’s wife, kids, family, friends. There’s nothing that we could say to ease the pain that everyone is feeling right now,” said Joe Triff, who worked alongside London for years.

A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $24,000 for the family in less than 24 hours. The page says the money is to support his wife and their three children.

London is the fourth firefighter in the Atlantic province to die this year.

Drysdale Falls is popular among thrill-seekers in the region, with many visitors jumping off the edge of the waterfall and into the pool below.