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June 6, 2018

Burned volunteer makes grade as career firefighter

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Adam Glaze (left) with fellow recruits at their Fauquier Fire Rescue School graduation on May 31.
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Adam Glaze relaxes at home with Meia before his first 24-hour shift at the Remington station.
It’s humbling; it’s fulfilling. Makes you feel like you’ve got a purpose.
— Adam Glaze
Adam Glaze
• Age: 19

• Home: Near Marshall

• Work: Fire/rescue technician, Fauquier County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management; May 31-present.

• Salary:

• Family: Parents Charles and Rhonda; sister Emily, 15.

• Education: Fauquier High School, 2017; Fauquier Fire/Rescue Recruit School, 2018.

• Hobbies: Fishing.

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
No way the Marshall teenager would let third-degree burns dash his dream of becoming a career firefighter/medic.

At age 16, Adam Glaze fought his first fire — a Sunday, July 19, 2015, blaze that engulfed a 1-1/2-story stucco house in The Plains and scorched his left shoulder and bicep and both calves.

To repair the damage, the young firefighter underwent seven hours of surgery and skin grafts at Washington MedStar Hospital Center’s burn unit.

Despite the life-threatening fire and painful aftermath, Mr. Glaze never really considered switching to a safer line of work.

“After some reflection, it’s just kind of like, ‘Well, it can happen. That’s what we signed up for,” he says. “So I still wanted to do it.”

On May 31, Mr. Glaze and 19 other graduates of the Fauquier County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management’s recruit school took the oath of office and their received badges during a 90-minute ceremony in Kettle Run High School’s auditorium. He and the 16 other rookies underwent 22 weeks of intense firefighting and emergency medical training.

Assigned to the Remington station, Mr. Glaze completed his first 24-hour shift last weekend.

The rookie fire/rescue technician and his colleagues ran three ambulance calls.

“It was a rather slow day,” Mr. Glaze says.

The July 2105 fire in The Plains started sometime before 8 a.m. Asleep at home, Mr. Glaze got alerted by pager.

“Just kind of hopped out of bed, drove up to the firehouse and hopped on the fire truck.”

When the crew members arrived — three volunteers and two career firefighters — they saw smoke streaming from the home.

“It appeared to be a pretty routine fire,” says Mr. Glaze, who headed upstairs with a 1-3/4-inch hose as a career firefighter followed closely behind him.

But conditions inside “deteriorated rapidly, just because of the fire dynamics,” he explains. “Our gear’s not fireproof; it’s fire-resistant. So it only takes so much.”

Both wore gear rated to withstand prolonged exposure to temperatures up to 500 degrees and about 10 seconds up to 1,500 degrees “during a backdraft or flashover.”

Thick smoke — resulting in little visibility — and “high heat” made the situation increasingly unsafe, Mr. Glaze says.

“I thought, ‘This isn’t good.’ So we do what we’re trained to do — flow the water (at 150 gallons per minute), try to cool the situation. And you realize the situation isn’t getting better so (we) backed out.”

Best he could tell, the fire’s extreme heat rather than “direct flame contact” burned him.

“It could have gone a lot worse than what it did — more significant injuries,” Mr. Glaze concludes. “So I consider myself pretty lucky I got away with what I did.”

He suffered third-degree burns to his calves and less severe damage to his arm, he says.

Mr. Glaze endured the worst burns of three firefighters injured battling the intense fire. Two older colleagues — one from the county career staff and one from the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Co. — received treatment at Fauquier Hospital.

Mr. Glaze initially went to the local hospital’s emergency room.

After learning only that his son had been injured, Charles Glaze drove from the family’s home in Marshall to the hospital.

“As I was walking down the corridor, approaching the (emergency) room, I could smell the smoke, and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is not good’,” recalls Charles Glaze, a retired Washington, D.C., fire department lieutenant. “From previous experience, I knew this was really going to be bad.”

But his greatest fears faded quickly.

“Once I walked into the room, once I saw the white face and his hands are in good shape, I knew this might have a good ending,” Charles Glaze recalls. “That indicates he never took his mask or his gloves off.”

That also indicated his son — resisting any impulse to remove gear under those circumstances — received excellent training, according the father.

“If you rip your (mask) off in high-heat conditions, you’re pretty much dead,” Adam adds. “You’re going to burn your airways. Your airways are going to swell and shut.”

Training and experience inform firefighters’ decisions about whether continue to combat or leave a structure fire, he says.

“He used his training to survive,” veteran Marshall Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Chief Eddie Payne says. “What he did in that fire reminded me of someone that’s been in the fire service for 10 years.

“He did a phenomenal job, and a bad situation could have been a whole lot worse. He utilized his training and stayed calm.”

After the blaze, questions emerged about whether a 16-year-old firefighter should be sent into a burning building.

“The only thing that everybody’s looking down on, he’s only 16,” Mr. Payne says. “But to me, he was as trained as a 26-year-old.”

Adam completed Fauquier High School’s fire science class and received the required training through the county department.

His father also signed a release permitting Adam to participate in activities that could pose “immediate danger to (the) life and health,” Mr. Payne says.

Four days after the fire, Charles Glaze issued a statement related to his son’s training.

“If anyone wants to address policies, that’s a separate issue, but the training provided by the county high school program to certify my son as a firefighter provided him the ability to survive a situation that could have been fatal,” the statement reads. “The extremely qualified instructors ensured my son’s survival.”

He stands by those words.

Just more than a week after the fire, the young firefighter received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Marshall from the hospital.

Following in his father’s professional footsteps seemed natural, Adam suggests.

“I grew up around it. Dad was always working 24-hour shifts. I’d go visit the firehouse now and then.

“Pretty much as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a firefighter.”

Adam also admits he has no appetite for pushing paper.

“I couldn’t see myself working Monday through Friday at an office job,” he says. “I’d just rather be out riding a truck, helping people.”

The young man has no illusions about the perilous nature of the work.

“You just gotta take on the good with the bad,” Adam says.

He also hopes more of his peers will join the local ranks of public safety workers.

“If you grew up in Fauquier County, it’s kind of home to you. It’s kind of a good feeling that you get to serve the citizens of Fauquier County. . . . It’s humbling; it’s fulfilling. Makes you feel like you’ve got a purpose.”
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