Today's Firefighter Burn Survivor Week profile is Chris Zimmerman from Canada. For Chris, firefighting was in his blood. His father was Fire Chief at Kelowna, a town of about 150,000 people three hours east of Vancouver, and he knew it was always something he wanted to do. Firefighting was second nature to him.
Which is why in July of 2017, he realized something was off with the smoke during an apartment fire his engine was battling. His company was called to a five-story structural fire of an apartment complex being built, so there was no water supply in there and his engine planned to haul equipment up from the 3rd floor. As he and his team were exploring the building, they were asked to drop down a floor as the fire was just in the roof.
As he stopped and noticed what he called, “weird smoke,” the roof started to collapse. “I got down one floor and saw a big fireball coming at me, so I turned to run. I went to grab my radio to put out a Mayday, I didn’t think I was getting out.”
Chris took his gloves off to feel around in order to find his radio, Suddenly, conditions drastically changed. “The fireball blew me up to the ceiling, then back to the floor. My hands were on fire since I had dumped my gloves.”
He finally caught up with his team and they could barely see each other, “everything was on fire, there was so much smoke. We were four floors up, but the outside ladders only go three floors high.”
Chris’s team was finally rescued, but his hands were completely burned, “it looked like I had two rubber gloves hanging off my hands. I went to the hospital and I had not only 2nd and 3rd degree burns to my hands, but I had 2nd degree burns around the top of where my boot would be as well as my back and ear.”
After a few weeks in the hospital, Chris went home and had extensive physical therapy. His skin did grow back about 15 months after his incident and he underwent 11 surgeries in a year.
“It was really tough to be dependent on other people, especially for basic, daily tasks. I had to ask for help, which was a challenge. My son turned a year right after I got hurt. It wasn’t easy, but it drove me harder to get better.”
He then met Lionel Crowther at a conference, and shared stories about their injuries and experiences, which led him to Adaptive. “So far, this has been pretty awesome. You can explain what happened to people who ask, it’s one thing to understand – or try to understand it – and it’s another thing to have been through it which is why Adaptive is invaluable.” ... See MoreSee Less
Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is a window of opportunity for organizations to mobilize burn, fire and life safety educators to unite in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message in our communities.