LC firefighter worked with Charleston firefighters who were killed

June 20, 2007
Reported by Pam Dixon

A Lake Charles firefighter worked with five of the nine Charleston firefighters killed Monday. Joel Caillouet returned to Lake Charles in February. KPLC's Pam Dixon talked to him about the brave men he knew and the impact of their deaths.

"It's just a big family, so every guy over there is missing brothers," says Lake Charles firefighter Joel Caillouet. Caillouet worked eight months with the Charleston Fire Department. He could have been among those killed. That was his shift battling that massive furniture store fire. Caillouet says, "It makes you rethink things. I can't say that I would do anything different. If we were in the same situation today and there were people trapped in a building. We'd do the same thing. We'd go in and try to save them."

Caillouet has been back in Lake Charles more than a year, but his memories of his brothers' bravery are still fresh on his mind. Caillouet says, "Whenever stuff got bad, they were there and they wanted to be doing the work and not letting somebody else do it. Especially when there's life at stake. We're trying to keep ourselves safe, but a certain amount of that gets outweighed when human life is at stake."

Lake Charles Fire Chief David Manuel says, "There's a verse in the bible that says there's no greater love for a man than a man who gives his life for someone else. That's what we do. That's what our job is. That's what our calling is." A calling that more than one hundred fire fighters a year give their lives for.

Caillouet plans to attend a memorial service for the nine firefighters Friday morning in Charleston.