Springfield firefighters are putting down the hose and picking up a hammer to help a Joplin firefighter and his family. Members of Springfield’s department and members of the Missouri State Council of Firefighters are volunteering for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in Joplin. "There is a lot of hard work going into it," Missouri State Council of Firefighters President Tony Kelley said. The firefighters are working at a fast pace. Builders and volunteers will complete seven homes in seven days.
The firefighters volunteer to work on the home for Joplin firefighter Kyle Howard. “This guy couldn’t get away because he was on lockdown at the station to keep going to calls,” Springfield firefighter Scott Jones said. “Firefighters came down and helped him tear down the house so they wouldn’t have to pay for that. This brings it all full circle.”
Kyle Howard's wife and three of their children survived the tornado inside their home. One of the couple’s sons was out of town when the tornado struck. “His wife and kids were in a closet huddled up together,” Kelley said. “A board went through his wife’s leg.” Fortunately, the injury was not serious and the family reunited. “Not knowing how your family is and seeing the devastation to your community, it’s truly amazing to me,” Kelley said. “His dedication to his community is great. To see him get something back is fantastic.”
When Kyle Howard couldn’t clock out, because so many were in need of rescue, fellow firefighters offered a different kind of back up. They rummaged through debris to salvage the family’s belongings. “We were happy to help him out then and happy to help now,” Kelley said. “I hope they enjoy it for years to come.”
Kyle was at work at the fire station during the storm and spent the first two hours after the tornado not knowing if his wife and kids had made it out alive. He made many stops along the way home, through the rubble, rescuing trapped victims and tending to injured members of the community. “Firemen are firemen no matter where you go,” Jones said. “We get along like brothers, we’ll pick a fight like brothers but we band together to get the job done.”
The home for the Howard’s is one of seven homes under construction. An Extreme Makeover: Home Edition builder says the homes range in size from 1300 to 1800 square feet. “We wanted to make sure other neighbors felt comfortable rebuilding next door,” builder Sam Clifton said.