Photo of the Week: Austin crew goes below and beyond to retrieve cellphone


Safety note: While this photo is fun and shows great customer service at work, it does bring to mind safety issues. FireRescue1 encourages all firefighters to wear appropriate protective gear, harnesses and equipment, including breathing apparatus, at all times necessary to maintain firefighter safety.

Now here's something you don't see every day!

This week’s Photo of the Week is from the Austin Fire Department, with the shot taken by Eddie Branch.

Excerpts from the following letter, sent by Branch to Austin’s city manager, explains why Engine 13/A-shift Firefighter Christy Harms has her head down a storm drain:

"As I was getting out of the car from an Uber ride, my phone slipped out of my pocket, bounced once, and fell directly into a storm drain in downtown Austin. I can't tell you what helpless feeling it was to lose my phone like that, wondering what in the hell am I going to do now! My other half said, 'what about calling 911?' I didn't know anything else to do, so I did.

“A very nice lady answered my 911 call and after she established it wasn't an emergency, I told her my dilemma and asked her if she knew of anything I could possibly do. She said to hold for a moment and a very nice man got on the line. I told him what had happened, he sympathized, and said he had a truck in the area that had just finished work at a high rise and that he would send them by to see if they could help.

"I didn't know exactly who I was talking to, but 10 minutes later, a fire truck pulled up next to me and four firefighters, one a young lady, jumped out of the truck, got the story, and went right to work unlocking the storm drain cover and lifting it off. The young lady immediately said, 'I'll get it' and she put on some gloves and lowered herself headfirst as far as she could, and then with two of the firefighters holding her legs, she retrieved my phone.

"These four firefighters were very nice, funny, and had great personalities, making it seem like all in a day's work. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciated everyone's efforts, from the initial phone call, the man that dispatched the fire truck and the four firefighters, and especially the young lady that dove into the manhole. From the time I made that 911 call, I had my phone back in 25 minutes.”

Kudos to Engine 13/A-shift crew – Lieutenant David Spidle, Fire Specialist Buck Johnson, and Firefighters Erik Coronado and Christy Harms, and Firefighter Duncan Rennie – who took the call and dispatched the crew to the scene.

As the AFD says in its Facebook post about the incident, “THAT'S how our mission goes beyond our name!”

(Photo/Eddie Branch, Courtesy of the Austin Fire Department)
(Photo/Eddie Branch, Courtesy of the Austin Fire Department)

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