Nine months after the tragic Ingram Square inferno that killed San Antonio Firefighter Scott Deem, we have finally heard from the man who barely survived that fire.
Brad Phipps spoke Tuesday about his gratitude, his plans for the future and his promise to remember the friend he lost, as he and his wife Tina attended an event for fallen first responders.
Brad Phipps, who is still recovering from his injuries, said he is overwhelmed by the love and support he and his family have received since that horrible night back in May.
"Everybody in the whole city has been more than grateful to us, supported our family, prayed for me. And they don't know how much it was needed but it was,” Brad Phipps said.
Brad’s wife Tina added that San Antonians are amazing. “We couldn't have asked for better support from everybody,” she said.
Brad said, “This accident has changed many lives and we can't change what happened. We just have to move forward, and for me and my family, I just want to say thank you very much.”
Brad said he is especially grateful for his co-workers. “The fire department has been an amazing help to me. Them and some of their connections have helped remodel my house to help me and I just want to say thank you to everybody,” he said.
Tina said as Brad faces at least four more surgeries, continued prayers are important.
“He's recovering great. He's going to continue recovering. Every day is a new day for us. Good or bad, we'll make it and just the continued prayers for everything. For us going forward and just, you know, just for the family in general, everybody's family,” Tina said.
Brad had high praise for the medical personnel at the Brooke Army Medical Center burn hospital who saved his life.
“I'm going to BAMC three to five days a week for rehab, three to five hours a day, and they're helping me a lot. They are truly life savers there at the burn center,” Brad said.
Brad said he dreams of returning to the job he loves.
“My real goal though is to get back to work. I'm shooting for this summer. We'll see what happens,” Brad said, adding that he has already achieved a number of goals in his recovery.
“I'm walking again and I'm hoping to go fishing again this spring and summer,” Brad said, but he said his primary mission is returning at full strength.
“I'd love to study and promote and drive. I know I can do it. It's not going to hold me back. I'm going to do it. I'm going to find a way. I can do it mentally. I'm already driving my own vehicles so I know I can do it, build up a little more strength and I've got four more surgeries to go and once those are complete, I'll be back on it.” Brad said.
The couple said continued prayers for the family of Scott Deem are always top of mind.
Brad said, “The Deem family has lost a great person. And we just want to continue praying for them and their children.” Brad said one challenge will be to make sure the family is remembered over the passage of time.
“Scotty will never be lost. He will always be there with us and he's the reason I'll get back on the truck and keep going,” Brad said. Tina agreed, saying Deem will never be forgotten.
Brad said he is already working to ensure that the lessons learned from this tragic event will be used to keep other first responders safe.
“I'm already in talks with other departments, some of our cadets and our staff in general, you know, about the experience and what helped save my life and what I can do to save other lives,” Brad said.
Brad said his desire to help others is high on his priority list. Brad said “We've got to try and prevent this tragedy from happening again.”
The Phipps attended an event at the Tip Top Café, a check presentation ceremony for the 100 Club. The restaurant presented a check for more than $1,500 to the group. The money was raised during a recent chicken fried steak dinner promotion. The 100 Club provides support for the survivors of first responders killed in the line of duty.
The group’s next benefit is scheduled for March 3. The Boots and Badges Casino Night will feature live music, and many different activities to raise money for the many different kinds of support they provide.