LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Monday morning, firefighter and EMT Rudy Dasta had his closest call yet in his six years on the job.
"We were in a bad situation," said Dasta, who works for South Trail Fire Rescue.
Dasta was on the roof of a burning store, helping ventilate the smoke and heat, when his leg broke through and he slipped. His partner on the job, Alan Zajack, quickly grabbed him and pulled him out.
"He just knew what to do and did it," said Dasta. "He did a really good job, and I'm proud of him."
What's most impressive, colleagues say, is that Zajack has been working for South Trail Fire for just a month. Monday's fire at Max Grocery was his first ever.
"It was nice to give back to (Dasta)," Zajack said, adding that Dasta has been like a mentor to him. "It was the drop of a hat. I grabbed him and that was it.".
Dasta was checked out on the scene, and cleared to return to work.
Although his outcome was the best scenario, he says fighting an intentionally-set fire is frustrating.
"It was unnecessary. It put a everyone's lives in danger - the family's lives and the firefighters who showed up on scene," said Dasta.
South Trail Fire also credits a grant for the good outcome. The agency says The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (also called S.A.F.E.R.)is the only reason it was able to hire Zajack and five other new firefighters on the team.
Meantime, investigators are still looking over surveillance from the store, and ask anyone with information on the fire to call the arson hotline at 1-877-NO-ARSON. Tips can remain anonymous and could lead to a cash reward.