ROCK ISLAND-- When a firefighter responds to a call, saving people comes first, saving the home comes second. But on Friday, August 16, 2019, the Rock Island Fire Department took that one step further.
Hopping in the fire engine, heading to a home in Rock Island; that's a typical part of the job for this fire crew. But this day, this call is different. It's a first for even the most experienced crew.
"It was terrifying," recalls Rock Island homeowner Danielle Demeyer.
It was on January 25, 2019 when the windchill was fourteen degrees below. The Rock Island Fire Crew battled more than the temperature. A home, Danielle's home, was on fire.
"It was a substantial fire. It started up in the attic, but it came down through the walls," remembered Rock Island Fire Marshal Greg Marty.
Firefighters saved everyone inside. Then they worked from night til dawn trying to save the house.
Let's fast forward back to today where we started. Homeowner Danielle goes back into her once burning home for the first time. The structure was saved enough to repair. And today, she's surrounded by the crew who put out that fire and made it all happen.
"Last time I was here, I couldn't even see the house because the smoke was banking down so much," says Battalion Fire Chief Terry Smith.
It's a big day for Danielle, but it's also a big day for this fire crew.
"For a fireman that can be kind of tough. They spend their entire night trying as hard as they can to save a house and unfortunately, a lot of times they come by the next day and it's already a grated, vacant lot," says Marty. "They were able to extinguish the fire, save enough of the property that it could be rebuilt."
Witnessing your hard work paying off; it's not always part of the job. It's a bonus.
"It's the ultimate win for the fire department when we can watch someone move back into a house that they helped save," says Marty.
Werner Restoration did the remodeling work. Most of the structure was still standing, so they replaced the roof and a majority of the exterior.