The True Story Behind This Viral Photo of a Frozen Fall River Firefighter
While the community continues to share its own snowy pictures of the blizzard from Saturday, one photo has caught the attention of the entire SouthCoast. After the devastating fire Saturday night on Irving Street in Fall River, a firefighter snapped a picture of his fellow fireman that perfectly depicts just how cold the blizzard was, and just how selfless this courageous man was in the face of danger.
The firefighter in this viral photo is Jeff Silvia, who has been with the Fall River Fire Department for 17 years. His father was a member of the same department for 26 years, and Silvia knew he would follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I kind of grew up in the fire service with the old school guys…it’s in the blood, so to speak,” Silvia said.
Silvia is the father to a set of 10-year-old twins who have already shown interest in keeping the legacy alive.
“I hope they get into the fire service, too, because it’s a great tradition,” he said.
On Saturday, as the blizzard began to wind down, the fire was burning brightly on Irving Street, resulting in the collapse of a three-story tenement. Silvia was called on the scene with his fellow firefighters to try to tame the blaze.
“We were on the D side of the building and that’s where the wind was blowing all night long, and we were just spraying large amounts of water onto that fire all night long," he said.
The goal was to prevent the neighboring building from catching fire, so Silvia continued to blast water onto the flames, despite freezing cold temperatures. When flowing water meets freezing cold temperatures, icicles are sure to result.
Fellow fireman Bobby Forand managed to capture this photo of Silvia once the blaze was under control.
Silvia’s hat seems frozen to his head as icicles hang from the brim. His mustache is completely frozen, forming icicles of its own, and his gear is covered in a chilling layer of ice – and yet, he cracks a smile through his frozen blanket.
When asked if he had any intention of stopping his hose and walking away when it got too cold, he simply replied, “Not at all.”
Silvia was quick to praise his fellow firemen, who selflessly braved the cold to keep the city safe.
As far as what he did immediately after almost freezing to death, he didn’t reach for hot soup. He reached for a snowblower.
“I snow-blowed the driveway just enough to get the kids their ATVs out, and we rode our ATVs and pulled each other on sleds," he said.
A frozen firefighter saving a building one minute, and a fun dad the next. The photo by Forand shows the very real dangers a firefighter faces while the community is safe at home.
He has since defrosted after a warm meal made by his fiancé.
The city of Fall River is safer with a firefighter like Silvia on the job.