Injured Firefighter Tells His Story - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Injured Firefighter Tells His Story

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One volunteer firefighter is thankful to get away from a major fire with just a broken arm.

The fire happened last Sunday in Fergus Falls. The massive fire destroyed or severely damaged several businesses and apartments.

More than 100 firefighters were involved in putting out the fire, and two of them were injured. We spoke with one of them as he told us what it was like and what has happened following the fire.

That volunteer firefighter, Tyler Armstrong, recalls the moment he was injured. "Got to the stairwell. Made sure everything was with us," he says.

Pushed back and forced to evacuate the building as smoke and flames intensified, he and the crew slowly made their way down. "I was the lead person out of the building. Came up to a landing, and I got caught up with some hose and went down the last flight of stairs."

Armstrong says he rolled three times, wedging his wrist between one of the stairs, shattering it. He adds, "They put a plate and eight screws in, and be out for eight weeks."

Now, he is forced to sit on the sideline for the fire department, and his regular job as a correctional officer. "In my line of work, I have to be 100 percent to be back. So I won't be. I had some vacation time, and you have sick time built up."

He says this is just one of the tough parts about being a volunteer, explaining, "I don't know how you would ever balance it. You don't ever expect to get injured." Add in the need for dedication, and the job is tough for any firefighter.

"When the pager goes off, you just go. I've left a few dance recitals, and a couple gymnastics meets," Armstrong says, continuing, "they all have 40 hour a week jobs, so this could've happened to any one of them."

While the volunteers with Fergus Falls get paid a little -- $8 an hour starting and $10.50 an hour in later years -- many cannot afford to miss time at their jobs.

"I think it probably crossed their mind maybe in the hiring process, they knew I was a firefighter," says Armstrong.

But even knowing there is that risk, many, like him, would not think about quitting. "I'll be back at it again. I personally wouldn't ever back out because of a broken arm or because of the risk. It's tough, but if you keep your head on a swivel and go to your training, you'll get out alright."

The cause of the fire was an electrical short in the attic.

A construction company has stabilized most of the building. A structural engineer will be coming in this week to assess the damage to determine what will happen to the building.


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