Lehigh firefighters help senior woman find her way home

Of course, firefighters are expected to respond when there is a blaze somewhere. But firefighters we spoke to also charge themselves to make personal connections with the senior communities they serve.

Lehigh Acres Fire Department spoke to us about the friendships it makes with senior citizens in the community after it responded to a local woman who asked for help.

An elderly woman asked Lehigh firefighters for help when she was lost and couldn’t find her way home, and they brought her along with them while they figured out where she lived. Firefighters say this is just one of the ways they help the elderly in the community.

In Garry Belfitt’s words, he’s no spring chicken. He said he considers himself a senior citizen when we asked.

Belfitt can get around on his own, but he knows, if he ever needed help, this fire station in Lehigh Acres is feet away from his door.

“People who apply for that kind of a job has that instinct in them mentally,” Belfitt said.

And, thankfully, Belfitt’s elderly neighbor turned to Lehigh Station 105 for help after she lost her way on a walk. Firefighters took her inside, called Lee County Sheriff’s Office and then, after two hours of searching, deputies and firefighters got her home safe.

“We’ll probably get two or three calls a shift where it’s just someone who needs help up,” firefighter Bennett Rich said.

Being there for the elderly community is as much the job of a firefighter as putting out flames.

“A lot of times their family are not here in the state, so they rely on us a lot,” firefighter Fernando Quirch said.

Answering to medical calls, accidents and responding to service calls, firefighters such as Rich and Quirch have made friendships along the way.

“We’ll have a 10-minute talk,” Quirch said. “Just a person to talk to.”

“I’d like to think of it as how my grandma would feel,” Rich said. “I try and go there welcoming, and, hopefully, they’ll welcome in.”

Lehigh fire says deputies worked hard to cross potential addresses off the list while firefighters scoured social media for clues. The family is glad to have their loved one home safe tonight.

“They’re not necessarily hurt luckily,” Rich said. “And it’s just someone that just needs a help out, a helping hand, which is what we’re there for.”

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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