Umar Fox searched his whole life to find the firefighter who saved him and his sister from a house fire in 1978, and that search finally came to an end with a heartfelt reunion in 2023.
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Umar was three years old when a blaze broke out in his former Dorchester, Massachusetts, house. He and his sister were home for Christmas break at the time. Their single mother, Silvia, was at work at the time.
Joseph Gilmore, who is now retired, was one of the first people on the scene. He ran into the flames and carried the children to safety before running back in to help quell the fire.
Umar had always hoped to meet the man who risked his life for him. But a picture taken by photojournalist George Rizer was all he had to help find the man. Forty-five years later, that picture ended up being enough, thanks to social media.
“Little Umar isn’t so little anymore,” Joseph joked when Umar walked into the room. “Wouldn’t want to pick you up now, buddy.”
During the Reunion, the Heroic Firefighter Learned that the Rescue Had a Domino Effect
The reunion not only included Umar and the heroic firefighter, but his mom, Silvia, and the photographer, George, were there, as well. Umar’s sister had planned to attend, but she canceled due to illness.
Umar told the outlet that he and his sister “wouldn’t be here” if it weren’t for Joseph. He went on to explain that the rescue “brought more into the world” and “saved other people’s lives.”
Umar is a father of three and a stepdad to two others. His sister also “has great kids” who are “all grown up and doing big things right now.”
Today, Umar is a school bus driver. But when he was younger, he worked as a recovery coach, and during that career, he talked two people out of suicide. When he was a teenager, he also rescued someone from drowning.
Before leaving, Silvia thanked Joseph for saving her children’s lives.
“You didn’t just do your job,” she said. “You did it well.”
As for Joseph, he didn’t consider that he’d done anything remarkable at the time. He was simply doing something he did every day for 38 years.
“The worst thing you can hear on the police scanner or fire scanner on the way to any event is, ‘children trapped,’” he noted. “You don’t want to hear that, but if you get there, you want to [see] them, God willing, be rescued like this.”
“We go to bad stuff looking for happy endings, hopefully,” he shared.
Don’t forget to share this happy reunion with your friends and family to remind them how one good act can impact lives.
You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.
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