I Am Local 6: Teen Jacob Roberts trains to be firefighter after family killed in fire
When a fire threatens to destroy a home, the people involved experience it in different ways. The family remembers that day and the people they lose forever. The first responders remember who they tried to save from that fire.
Sometimes learning the good that comes from such destruction just takes time. It’s the mark of a loving family, Jacob Roberts remembers being in the arms of someone who loved him, but he doesn’t have any memories of her. His mother, Jennifer, died when their house caught fire in 2003. Jacob was only 15 months old; his brother died too.
Hendron Fire Capt. Tommy Vaughan was one of the first responders to the fire. “We never should have walked in the door of that fire," he said.
Vaughan often thought of that fire, but he says more than a decade later he lost touch with the family he tried to save. But, after 13 years, Vaughan crossed paths with Jacob at training.
Jacob remembered: “He’s the one who got me out.” And now, Jacob is training to be a firefighter.
"It got to me," Vaughan said. "It’s emotional seeing him, and how he’s grown up and gotten to the fire department.”
“I guess I just like to help people. I want to be like him and my dad," Jacob said.
Jacob trains with his adopted father’s department, but now he’ll always be an honorary Hendron firefighter.
Vaughan honored Jacob with some special tokens. “This is the helmet I had on that night, and now it’s yours," Vaughan said. "Proud of you, bud.”
Jacob will be able to train at this station anytime and, once he finishes his training, he can be accepted automatically as a member on the roster.
The teen lost his family before he could hold them in his arms, but it’s through fire that his family grew even more. “I got all kinds of family members,” he said.
Jacob will have to go through several more years of training; he’ll probably be certified when he turns 18. Jacob’s biological uncle and aunt, who he knows as mom and dad, took care of him and adopted him shortly after the fire. His biological father is still in his life.