Luke Zimmerman, 19, of Monticello, Illinois is a college freshman at Parkland Community College in Champaign. He is also a rookie volunteer firefighter with 3 months in with the Cisco Fire Protection District. On Monday, November 11, a call came in at 12:53am saying that the home of 83 year old Patricia Ford had a fire in the basement and she was trapped on the first floor of the burning home. This would be Luke’s first call.
Luke was the first to arrive on the scene and was told by one of the woman’s neighbors where Ford would be in the home. “I went and grabbed the light, found her, talked to her briefly, and realized I could not get her myself. By the time I got out, there were a group of guys who could go in,” he told The News-Gazette.
Fellow firefighters went in to the home and helped to battle the blaze in the basement and were able to get Ms. Ford out of the home through the back of the home. “We were very fortunate,” said Cisco Fire Chief Ron Weishaar. “We saved the house, and it only spread upstairs to one place. So other than smoke damage, the first floor had little damage.”
Prior to this call, Luke had one practice burn. However, he trusted his training and stayed low during the fire. Although he is currently an agricultural business major, after this experience he thinks he may want to be a volunteer fireman for life.
“I love it, and may be a volunteer the rest of my life, and may make a career out of it,” he added.
“It just goes to prove why rural departments need the training, because we get the large fires too,” Chief Weishaar said.
Ms. Ford was transported to the hospital and is expected to recover. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.