A team of San Diego firefighters are deflecting praise for replacing an elderly woman’s tattered wheelchair ramp, instead insisting they were just being good neighbors.
The San Diego Fire-Rescue firefighters from Station 32 in Paradise Hills saw an opportunity to go above and beyond when they responded to the woman’s home after she fell out of her wheelchair and could not get up.
“You could tell the ramp was kind of weathered,” firefighter Patrick Knodel said. As the crew entered the home Knodel had to warn them about a potentially dangerous hole in the old ramp.
After helping the woman back into her chair and making sure everything was safe inside her home, the fire crew gathered to see if there was something they could do about making the outside of her home more safe.
“One of our mottos in the department is ‘See a job, do a job,’ so we decided to step up and knock it out,” Knodel said.
Once the crew got permission for the project from the elderly woman, they got right to work. Knodel brought his tools from home, a local hardware store was kind enough to donate the materials, and the Home Owners Association even helped them dispose of the old weathered ramp.
“You could tell it was a close-knit community, Knodel said. He added that the woman’s neighbors approached them and offered them water and assistance.
“We spend a third of our year living [at the firehouse]. This is our home, that’s why they call it a firehouse, and the citizens of this community in Paradise Hills are our neighbors so we’re just being good neighbors,” firefighter Gabe Ortiz said.
Though none of the crew had carpentry backgrounds, they combined their talents and got the job done. Crew members said the project turned out to be an awesome team building exercise for the crew.
The crew from Station 32 provided yet another example of why firefighters are so highly regarded in every community, but don’t call them heroes.
“Teachers are heroes, social workers are heroes. This is just what we do to make money. We serve the community the best we can and in serving the community we’re also a part of it,” Ortiz said.
When asked if there was any chance he and his team would take up a carpentry side gig, Ortiz said with a grin, “No, but if you need help, we’ll help you out.”