Fire chief mentors young firefighter that he saved as a child

ROSEWOOD HEIGHTS, Ill. - For Tim Bunt, this is a family business.

“I was eighteen when I stared,” says Tim Bunt, Fire Chief Rosewood Heights Fire Protection District.

“What was it that got you into it?” asks Patrick Clark.

“'My father had been a member of this department for over 50 years,” says Bunt.

So, it`s fair to say the Rosewood Heights, Illinois fire chief grew up in this fire department and the community of about 5,000 people near Bethalto.

Bunt has been chief since 2006 and a firefighter for 37 years.

But there`s one call that sticks out from the rest.

“We responded to the call of a child having difficulty breathing,” says Bunt.  “I happened to be at the station so we ran over there.  He was probably about 18-months-old.”

This was about 24 years ago.

“I know that I had a fever and I guess my Mom had put me in the bath to try and cool me down a little bit to see if I`d feel better,” says Patrick Smith, Firefighter Rosewood Heights Fire Protection District.  “Next thing she knew I was having a seizure in the bathtub and she called 911 and that`s when everybody showed up.”

“Opened his airway and applied oxygen to him and it helped his breathing a little bit,” adds Bunt.

In a move that might take your breath away, the two would meet again years later when Smith walked through the doors of the volunteer fire department with an application in hand.

“I guess it's the feeling that these people need help,” says Smith.  “They're in a tough situation.  It's nice knowing that there's people out there that if they call they'll show up.”

“He`s a very good firefighter,” says Bunt.  “Very active.”

Smith has been a firefighter with Rosewood Heights for the last seven years.

Now when the two respond to an emergency call together, besides a fire truck, they're also sharing a bond from long before.

“We do,” says Bunt.  “Yeah, I consider him a friend and a firefighter.  There's always going to be that connection.”

“Definitely a little bit of a mentor,” says Smith in reference to his fire chief.  “Learned a lot of stuff from him.  There's a lot more he can teach, so we'll see where it goes.”