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Firefighter calls Mayday during fire rescue mission

'There was still possibly a child trapped'
Mobile home fire
Posted at 9:21 AM, Mar 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 12:21:18-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Tucson firefighter captain had to make a mayday call during a rescue mission in a mobile home on the Southside.

Fire Captain with the Tucson Fire Department Garland Parris said the night started with multiple calls about a mobile home on fire.

"Dispatch said there was still possibly a child trapped in the trailer," Parris said.

When they arrived on the scene, Parris and two of his men went inside the home to look for the child.

The two men went to the back of the home towards the bedrooms, while Parris stand in the front by the living room.

That's when he said the fire started to heat up.

"The ceiling was rolled with fire and the smoke and the heat banked down and then it pushed me down to the floor so I was on my knees," Parris said. "I've never seen a fire roll as fast as this one did."

When the fire rolled in, his biggest worry became his teammates.

"I was sitting there. I was watching this fire, it was getting really involved up there and the last thing I wanted to do was for it to flash down the hallway where they were at," Parris said.

He knew in order for him to save them, he needed to call for back up.

"If I ran down the hallway, as hot as that got and as fast as that happened, I'd get flashed on and we'd be more in a world of hurt because nobody knew were I was a,t but I knew where my firefighters were at," Parris said. "When I got on the radio and called for them, they didn't hear me.. I went ahead and at the point and called the mayday."

Calling the mayday was something he's never had to do in his 21 years as a firefighter. It was shocking for the crews that heard it.

"The adrenal surge that everybody hears on that fire ground, when they think one of there coworkers is in immediate danger," Battalion Chief with the Tucson Fire Department Barrett Baker said. "You have a hard time putting into words what that does to you emotionally."

A mayday call indicates to other firefighters on the scene that one of their own needs him.

"At the end of the day, we try to save people, but we want to go home safely as well," Baker said.

It took 45 seconds for Parris and his me to get out, but many of the firefighters on scene said it felt like 45 years.

Everyone got out safely, because Parris said the mayday call saved their lives.