By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, was a day one Birmingham family will never forget. Although it started out like any other Sunday, things quickly changed for the Pittman family.
Amanda and Clay Pittman’s home in Crestwood caught fire, and if not for the quick thinking of 5-year-old Thomas Pittman, things could have been a lot worse.
“I am so proud,” said Amanda Pittman, Thomas’ mother. “He always makes us proud but as we have started replaying the events of the day, Clay and I realized that we never told the kids to get out of the house.”
Amanda Pittman said when they looked over and saw the kids were on the porch, they were relieved. Thomas had grabbed his 3-year-old sister, Elle, and taken her outside.
“We started talking to him about it and he said, ‘Well, I knew to get out because when I saw there was smoke, the firemen that came to our school told us if we see smoke to get out of the house,'” Pittman said her son told her that day.
Those firemen were from Trussville Fire and Rescue. Thomas is a student at Northpark Baptist Church and every year, the director of Noah’s Park Weekday Education, at the church, said she has firemen come talk to students.
“It is something that’s important and we do it every year,” said Kandy Cole. “We love that community helpers come in. It’s an educational opportunity and it gives them the knowledge on how to react to a situation like this.”
The talk the firemen had the day Thomas Pittman was listening, possibly saved lives. The couch where Thomas and Elle were sitting was destroyed. In a video of the fire, you can see flames coming out of the window where the couch sat. If not for Thomas’ actions, things could’ve been devastating, according to Birmingham Fire Apparatus Operator Sean Mullins.
“About 10% of the home had substantial damage,” said Mullins. “The overall damage is going to be smoke. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
On Monday, Feb. 10, Trussville Fire and Rescue presented Thomas with a certificate and an honorary fireman badge. Lt. Scott Payne, with Trussville Fire, said this case is proof their efforts are not in vain.
“This shows us that everything we do is heard,” said Payne. “This young man did everything he was supposed to do without hesitation, so he learned from us.”
Lt. Payne said all families need to have a fire plan. You should discuss with children a meeting point outside of the house in case of a fire. Also, if you’re inside the home, remember to stay low, because smoke rises.
Mullins said it’s also important to familiarize children with local firemen.
“Education to kids and letting them know what to do is really important,” Mullins said. “You’ve got children that would be afraid to see firefighters come into a house. But if you get to a place where they don’t have a plan to get out of the house or if they don’t know what to do, the results can be devastating.”
The Pittman’s believe a Power Wheels battery charger started the fire. Thankfully, the family was already in the process of remodeling another home. They hope to repair the fire damage and sell the Crestwood home.
As for Thomas Pittman, he is thankful to be an honorary member of Trussville Fire and Rescue. He had his picture made with the firemen and with the fire truck. The 5-year-old explained his actions in a very simple way.
“I went outside,” said Thomas Pittman. “I love her so much!”