Rookie Firefighter Learns from Hero

Knoxville (WVLT) - It's a fire that still smolders in the hearts and minds of many of you.

The McClung Warehouse fire is a memory firefighters will never forget.

As one man begins his fire training to save lives, he comes face to face with a veteran still coming to grips with his brush with death.

You remember the images, a fire so massive, the largest in decades. Close to 80 firefighters battling the flames at the McClung Warehouses.

Four men were hurt.

"The arson investigators estimated the temperatures were in excess of a thousand degrees," the most serious was Jeff Kendrick, falling forty feet to a sidewalk below.

Now home, Jeff's daily reminders of his injuries, include wearing a back brace from a broken vertebrae, and the scars on his hands.

Now, this crusty veteran has an admirer, ready to take on his own challenge.

'Hey, you must be Jeff, nice to meet you," a young buck named Steve Hall, heading off to the academy to learn the ropes.

"I wanted something more meaningful and ah, I understand there are risks, involved, but the rewards are helping people," says Steve.

From veteran to rookie, man to man, Jeff offers this. "The same advice people gave me when I first started, which is pay attention to your training. Listen to what the people who are giving you you're instruction in this profession and this calling".

Now with a wife and two little girls, the risks are even greater.

"I'm just going to pray for him everyday and you know that's all you can do, and I'm confident with the training he's going in any situation prepared," says Sara Hall, Steve's wife.

"Absolutely, I would go into this profession, the rewards outweigh the risks," Hall says.

"Everyday, I'll pray that each one will have an angel, that's all you can do," says Sara.

A lifetime of advice from a veteran firefighter to a willing rookie wanting to make a difference.

Steve Hall begins his academy training this Monday. As for Jeff Kendrick, he'll wear his back brace for 6 more weeks, and then undergo three months of therapy.


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