Firefighting is in Andy Allison’s blood. His father retired a captain with the Lewisville Fire Department in 2007, and besides some time studying to be a pilot, he’s spent his career building his way up in his father’s footsteps.
He and his younger brother even competed for a job with the LFD a few years back; Andy getting the job and getting to live out that dream.
By 2012, the nearly 30 year-old was working his way up in the department, newly married to wife Amanda, and the couple was expecting their first child; life was moving in the right direction.
Then August 12 came and changed everything.
"We got the call, which was a structure fire call,” said Allison.
His team was the first to respond to a house fire in Lewisville. They got the fire put out with relatively few problems, but while going through the wreckage and putting out hotspots, something went wrong.
Andy went into a laundry room and turned on his hose to put out a hotspot and instantly felt hit by something he’d never felt before.
"As soon as I opened the nozzle, I felt a huge hit on my left shoulder,” he said. “[It] felt like a needle or I got hit.”
The truth was much scarier though. Andy’s hose had struck a live, 220v electrical service and as it hit him, he fell into the dryer seizing up as the electricity coursed through him.
"At that time I realized real quick what was happening: I'm getting electrocuted,” said Allison. "I'm basically paralyzed, I'm just stuck there."
Luckily, Andy fell to his knees, breaking contact and fellow firefighters were able to free him and get him to the hospital.
"I hated that phone call,” said Amanda who was working at a hospital at the time.
Andy took on major trauma, but survived the injury; something he said many of his doctors have called a miracle.
However, after going back to work, Andy quickly found he had lingering issues, and after going through several doctors, found a specialist to diagnose him.
The problems were much worse than they ever knew, including severe internal injuries and the worst news for the young firefighter, a broken back.
"It was devastating to me. I know what back injuries do to firemen,” he said.
It began an endless string of operations and procedures to take care of the injuries; doctors even having to re-break his back to begin fixing some of the problems.
Now, it’s left Andy in a back-brace, walking with a cane and dealing with issues most people don’t see until they’re well into retirement.
"My son weighs 25 pounds,” said Andy. “I can never pick him up again."
Amanda had to quit her job to support her husband and their son Skylar at home.
The family of three’s income has gone from healthy to barely there in a matter of years, and it’s about to get worse.
Andy’s injuries have now been confirmed as career ending and on December 31 he will retire from his dream job at age 31.
"I'm having a hard time with that,” he said.
The Allison family is quickly trying to figure out what they’ll do next, as Andy continues to battle his injuries, but it’s clear they won’t be fighting the battle alone.
Andy’s fellow firefighters in Lewisville have been helping him and his family since the beginning; moving them into a home closer to the hospital, helping them get around, and now starting a Go Fund Me page to raise money for their soon to be retired friend.
"Obviously this is a great way to raise funds to help Andy support his family as he decides what the next step in his life's going to be,” said Chief Tim Tittle.
So far more than $29,000 has been raised in just a few weeks with donations coming in from firefighters and everyday people around the world.
"How do you ever thank anybody like that?” said Andy. “I don't know, we're speechless."
The couple said they’ve also received thousands of messages and “Likes” of support on Facebook.
The Allison’s say they will press on, and Andy said when he’s able he’ll find his next career path; although leaving firefighting will be difficult still, he said.
"It's definitely reshaped our marriage and made us feel like an old couple,” joked Amanda who is also working towards returning to the job market as her husband gets better.
Andy said it’s his family that’s kept him going through the recovery and that drives him to get back on his feet; both his wife and child, and their fire family.
"What else do you have? You've got to turn towards your family and you've got to fight for them,” he said. "They always have my back."
And firefighters in Lewisville say retired or not, Andy and family will always have a home with them.
If you’d like to donate and help the family you can check out their Go Fund Me page.