Shreveport Fire Driver Michael Covert
Photo credit: Courtesy of Shreveport Fire Department
Fire Driver Covert climbed in through a broken window, without the benefit of SCBA, turnout gear or a hoseline, and entered the hot and smoky room to find the missing child.
Shreveport firefighter Michael Covert relied on instincts when faced with a child trapped in a burning building.
In the early morning hours of May 18, 2008, firefighters from the Shreveport Fire Department were called to a multi-family dwelling fire with children trapped inside.
Heavy smoke and flames could be seen near the rear of the apartment building, which had no sprinklers. Bystanders were screaming that a child was inside one of the burning apartments, near a window.
Two of his fellow firefighters were donning their SCBA equipment, and a third was retrieving the department's thermal image camera to begin searching for victims. That left Covert, the driver, with just a few seconds to make his move.
Covert climbed in through a broken window. He had no SCBA, no charged handline and no turnout gear when he entered the hot and smoky room.
"There was no forethought," he says. "I just kind of did it."
Covert slid his hand down the wall and touched the child's foot. He gently pulled the boy towards him and carried him to the nearest exit.
Covert says his fellow firefighters were shocked to see him inside the building, calling for their help. They didn't even know he was inside. But he is sure that it was the right thing to do.
"I knew there was not time to get anyone else in protective gear. It was a situation that, if that kid had any chance of living at all, it was me going in right then."
He attempted to reenter the apartment to search for the other children, but was driven back by the intense smoke and heat. Of the three children who were inside at the time of the blaze, only the child that Covert rescued survived.