By Alton Mitchell
Two firefighters were injured in a training exercise on Thursday in nearby Opelika. One of the firefighters remains hospitalized in Birmingham, but the other had returned to work early this week as community support for the firefighters pours in.
Opelika Fire officials were conducting a training exercise on Thursday afternoon at a home in the 2700 block of Anderson Road. Firefighters were training using a live fire at an abandoned property on the roadway. One of those firefighters was identified as Captain David Davis.
Captain Davis is said to be a 16-year firefighting veteran with 11 of those years at the Opelika Fire Department. Captain Davis was participating in the training exercises when he was badly burned in the exercise. The details of what led to the burns has not been released. The injuries Davis sustained were classified as serious, but non-life threatening. After sustaining burns to 30 percent of his body Captain Davis was airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham.
The city of Opelika shared a post on its Facebook page on Monday that said Captain Davis is doing better. He can now walk and talk on his own but will undergo a surgery scheduled for Tuesday and will need skin grafts. Following his surgery Captain Davis is expected to remain in the hospital for about a week so medical personal can monitor for infections.
During the training exercise a second firefighter was also injured. The second victim has been identified as Henry Williford. Williford’s injuries were not as severe as Davis’. Williford was transported by ground ambulance to Piedmont Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, GA for treatment. Wilford was treated and returned to his work duties on Monday morning.
More details are expected to be released on the details of the incident once a report is received from the Alabama Fire Marshall’s office. The agency is called in to investigate the cause of fires in which injuries occur.