Fire Destroys Hutchinson Firefighter's Home

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

Justin Holzrichter Relief Fund

Members of Firefighters Local 179 have established a fund to help fellow firefighter Justin Holzrichter handle unexpected expenses related to the fire.

Donations can be made at:

Hutchinson Government Employees Credit Union

121 E. Avenue A

Hutchinson, Kansas 67501

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Friday, June 22, 2012

When Justin Holzrichter and the rest of his crew at Hutchinson's Fire Station No. 2 received the call of a house fire about 6:30 a.m. Friday, Justin already knew the fire was going to hit close to home.

"It came in as 1305 13th Terrace," he said. "And when that came in, I was like, 'Wow, that's pretty close to my house. I just hope it's not my house.'"

But it was his house.

Dispatchers had been given the wrong address. The caller reporting the fire gave them the address for the house next door to Justin's. Most of the house was already burning by the time the crew arrived.

"I knew that, coming in as the second engine, that I'd have to lay a five-inch line," Holzrichter said. "When I did see that it was my house, I knew that I needed to keep doing my job and lay the line like I'm supposed to."

Justin's commanders then had him stop working, so he could be sure his emotions wouldn't take over. That was a challenge for all firefighters.

"We respond to fires on a regular basis and just a coping mechanism we have is to turn our emotions off a lot of times so it doesn't overwhelm us," said Hutchinson Fire Capt. Wesley Stewart. "But when it's somebody you're close to, somebody you work with, somebody that you've known for years, you really can't do that."

Emotions, though, will be part of the emotional support Justin's fellow firefighters provide. That support includes establishing a fund to help him with the unexpected expenses he's now facing.

"They always talk about the brotherhood of firefighters," Stewart said. "This is a situation where it comes out and the true colors of that brotherhood shows up."

"They really rallied around me and let me know they had my back," Holzrichter said. "Also, my church, the Crossroads Christian Church here in Hutchinson definitely has been helping me out, giving me calls letting me know if I need any support -- whether food or clothes and even help cleaning up -- both the union and the church have been there for me. It's been really nice."

Justin says if the situation were different and one of his fellow firefighters were needing help, he'd be right there, too.

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