Firefighting community rallies behind injured friend

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Updated: 7/15/2013 10:42 pm
LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) -- The life of a firefighter's wife isn't without its stresses.

"You know what they're doing, but you never think of it happening to you, never being put in that position," Brenda Bruce said. "But it can happen to any firefighter at any given moment."

Brenda Bruce knows that more than anyone.

Her husband, Palmetto Assistant Fire Chief Wally Bruce, received serious burns July 5 while fighting a fire at the old Malone's Steak and Fish Restaurant.

Flames seared the helmet and melted the regulator mask he was wearing.

Fellow firefighters say if Bruce had been inside one minute longer, he probably would have died.

"We just take it day by day. Some days are better than others," wife Brenda Bruce said.

Those injuries have left him unable to work and having trouble making ends meet.

That's where his colleagues step in to help.

"On a county department, we're all like brothers out here," Birmingham Ridge Volunteer Fire Department Sgt. Chase Hudson said. "Everybody in the county is all together. We all have a mutual desire to help each other."

They're doing that by holding a benefit July 27 in Verona.

"All the local fire departments, the community, the businesses...everybody in Lee County has been really supportive of what's going on and what we're doing," Verona Assistant Fire Chief Charles Smith said. "There's a dozen or more fire departments in the county that's participating and helping with this event."

Wally Bruce's coworkers also plan to hold boot drives, where donations are accepted in a firefighter's boot.

They say it's a tradition that's existed for more than 20 years.

It's all a bit overwhelming to a wife whose husband has devoted his life to helping others.

"Words cannot describe the outpouring of support that they have shown to us," Brenda Bruce said.

Brenda says her husband still has at least a month of recovery before he can go back to work.

That begs the question: will she let him return to firefighting?

"Oh yeah, he's going back. I know it's in his blood. He'll be back," Brenda Bruce said.
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