California Firefighter’s Career-Ending Ailment Inspires Idea

When former Battalion Chief Clive Savacool was honored in retirement ceremonies at a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District meeting last week, a lengthy proclamation cited his accomplishments. Across 18 years, he was a reserve firefighter, firefighter-paramedic, engineer, captain and training chief. At the peak of his career, he commanded nine stations in Battalion One, spanning Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Lafayette and Martinez, reports

What the proclamation didn’t mention is that he’s only 36 years old. The Martinez native was forced to leave the profession he loved because of a respiratory ailment incurred in the line of duty.

“We had two houses on fire,” he said. “I was by the front door of one of them, waiting for a firefighter who was bringing another hose line. All of a sudden, there was a change in the wind, and it dropped all this smoke and flames right on top of me.”

He downplayed the first-degree burns to his face as “superficial” — he even jokes about losing part of an ear — but the damage to his lungs was no laughing matter.

“I didn’t think I needed a mask because I hadn’t gone inside yet, so I was caught in a bad position. I took in several breaths of this superhot fire.”

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