Firefighters cope with children's deaths - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Firefighters cope with children's deaths

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A team of volunteers with Savannah Fire is working with the firefighters who tried in vain to rescue two young boys from a house fire on Savannah's West 35th Street.

"These guys last night did everything per protocol and the best they could," said Battalion Chief Kelly McDaniel. "And no matter how many times we tell them that, they think, 'You know, I could've done something better.'"

McDaniel heads up Savannah Fire's Critical Impact Stress Management Team, a group called out to traumatic scenes to help firefighters cope with the mental and emotional toll.

The fire broke out about 2 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Burroughs Street. Firefighters arrived to find smoke billowing from the door and windows. They knew children were trapped inside but couldn't.

Brothers, ages 5 and 6, died in the fire, believed to be caused by a space heater. Their four siblings, mother and grandmother escaped.

McDaniel said such situations can make firefighters feel "helpless".

"We're here to help," she said.

The team consists of eight firefighters who respond to these situations in their personal vehicles. They don't get paid.

Their message is, "We've all been there".

In this fire, as in all fatalities, all firefighters involved will meet 72 hours after the incident so they can talk out what happened and be ready to get back in the game.

McDaniel had this message for the men and women who fought Thursday's fire.

"You did everything you can, you guys. Just give yourself a break. I know it's hard sometimes. But you did everything."

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