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Firefighters face death to save lives

By chirst
March 16, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
Updated March 15, 2013 at 10:16 p.m.


The series

Feb. 24 - A patrol officer balances family, job

March 3 - County jailers live among criminals

• March 10 - Victoria K-9 units battle narcotic use in Victoria

• Today - Victoria firefighters become family, see E1

He could not see anything.

Victoria firefighter Dana Woodward was surrounded by smoke as he battled back the flames in the house - just as he had countless times before in his nine years as a firefighter.

He held the water hose, which pumps out 250 gallons of water a minute, with his teammate. It takes at least two men to hold the hose.

"I thought we were making headway, but we really weren't," Woodward said, describing the fire. "(Capt. Mike Baecker) said for us to get out, and, of course, he is in command, so I trusted his judgment. I turned back to go out, and there was nothing but a wall of fire behind us because it had gone around us."

And instead of fighting to save the house, Woodward said, they fought fire to save their own lives.

About three minutes after they got out of the house, Woodward said the ceiling collapsed.

"Luckily, he saw something on the outside, and we got out in time," Woodward said, shrugging off the brush with death and continuing to work his 24-hour shifts at Station 4.

He doesn't come back each shift to make a lot of money - firefighters make between $38,000 and $50,000 a year. Many of them even have second jobs.

He doesn't do it for the thrill.

He does it for the people - the people he gets to save and those he works with.

"You have to have it ingrained in you - your whole soul - whatever it is. It is in your blood. You don't do this job to get rich, that is for sure. So you have to get some other reward out of it, and that is what it is for me - the people," Woodward said, his teammates nodding.

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