WESTLEY, Calif. (KTXL) — A volunteer firefighter with the West Stanislaus Fire District is recovering after he was burned while battling the Caldor Fire.
Volunteer firefighter Richard Gerety III is undergoing skin graft surgery Wednesday after being burned fighting the Caldor Fire last week.
His wife, Jennifer Gerety, and their 2-year-old son are by his side at the hospital.
“He’s an amazing husband and father,” Jennifer Gerety told FOX40. “He’s in really, really good spirits. Everybody knows he’s got tons of dad jokes lined up waiting for him, so he’s keeping that spirit.”
Richard Gerety was part of a four-man strike team called out to battle the wildfire on August 18.
The West Stanislaus Fire Chief said he was burned while working that fire on August 28 and was rushed to the Firefighters Burn Institute at UC Davis.
“He does have second and third-degree burns on 20% of his body. His hands and arm are the worst of it,” Jennifer Gerety said.
She said her husband is expected to spend at least a month in the burn center.
“It’s going to be a long road,” she said.
Gerety has been a volunteer firefighter with the West Stanislaus Fire District in Westley since 2017 and works as a mechanic for John Deere.
“I’m just hoping for a speedy recovery,” she said.
The Firefighters Burn Institute in Sacramento has been helping the family and said they will continue to support Gerety and the family even after he’s released.
“Make sure that they’re getting the emotional support as well as the physical therapy, and the things that they need to get back to what they love doing,” explained Firefighter Burn Institute Executive Director Joe Pick.
Pick said his organization supports all burn survivors.
“If anybody suffers any burns, no matter how small that they know that they have a resource, beyond the actual burn unit,” Pick said.
Jennifer Gerety said they’ve been overwhelmed at the community’s support since her husband was injured.
“We have had nonstop family, friends, firefighters, even firefighters from out of the area reaching out, and it is extremely heartwarming,” she said. “And I don’t think that there’s any way that we’re ever going to be able to thank these people enough for every single thing that they’ve done for us.”
Jennifer Gerety is asking for the community’s thoughts and prayers.
For those who would like to send a card or donation to the Gerety family, click or tap here for the GoFundMe link, or use postage information below:
West Stanislaus Fire Protection District
Attn. Gerety Family
344 West Las Palmas Avenue
Patterson, CA 95363