Davenport Fire: What You Don't See on TV - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Davenport Fire: What You Don't See on TV


It's something we see and hear on a regular basis across the QCA. "We still all run into burning buildings when people are running out of them," says Capt. Ed Grothus with the Davenport Fire Department.

We saw it on Wednesday night's premiere of Chicago Fire. The show is chock full of drama, but how realistic is it? Local firefighters say they see their share of drama, but tell us fire service is so much more. In Davenport, it's a team, 145 strong, dedicated men and women ready to serve the community.

Each firefighter has the big one, the one where every detail about the call, the fire, the people is burned into his or her brain. Retired Capt. Leon Rowell says for him, that was Oscar Mayer back in 1996. "We had one fella that just about didn't make it out of the building and two other firefighters pulled him out," Rowell says. "We led 35 people out of the building that day." But that day is not a typical day in the life of a Davenport firefighter.

It starts before the sun, with maintenance, an information exchange and hours of training. Chief Lynn Washburn says, "When our doors are down, we are still working for the betterment of this community and you." Crews are making sure they are ready to respond to any emergency, from a hazardous materials leak to dealing with weapons of mass destruction to medical emergencies.

Rowell says, "You have to work together. It's teamwork." Some of that comes through on the small screen, but life in "the heat of it" on the streets of Davenport is very different from on television. The two share the fact that firefighters become a family. "It's being part of a group, a team that works together," Zach Grassle tells us. "We live together, we eat together, and you get to enjoy that and get to know a really good group of people."

It's a group that signed up for a tough, unpredictable job. Capt. Les Norin says, "It's in the rain, it's in the sun, it's in the temperature extremes. It's 3 in the morning. You really have to have the desire to do that type of thing 24/7 to make it a career."

Most we talked to say it is a calling. Some are inspired by family members who have gone before. "You know, I grew up in it," Norin says. "My dad was a volunteer from the time I was about six years old." But others, like Cody Johnson, are drawn to it because they want to serve the community. "Growing up, you always see big red trucks going by and you don't really understand why they're going by. But as you get older, you begin to understand anytime someone calls 9-1-1, they're coming to help you."

At the same time, it's not always about response. These firefighters spend a lot of time out in the community focusing on prevention and education. And we'll tag along as they do that in the coming weeks, bringing you a behind-the-scenes look at all aspects of Davenport Fire.

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