PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence home has been deemed a total loss after a fire on Saturday. Luckily, everyone got out safely thanks to the quick actions of an off-duty Warwick firefighter and two Providence police officers.
Deputy Fire Chief Michael Mernick was in the city that night to see a show with his wife.
“After the show, we left and decided to go to Smith Street, New York System Wieners, to get some wieners. We got six, as they say, ‘gaggers dressed to kill’ and we headed up Smith Street,” he said.
That decision may have been a life-saving one. When Mernick turned onto Goddard Street, he could tell something was going on.
“I pulled over, got out, looked back at my wife and said, ‘I’ll be right back,'” he recalled.
Mernick identified himself to two officers on scene and began assessing the fire. Once he realized the back entrance was unsafe, he and the officers ran to the front of the home.
That’s when people outside screamed that there were children inside. Mernick didn’t hesitate.
“I saw the police officers at that time and I said, ‘Let’s go,’ and they followed me right up,” he said.
The team ran up to the third floor of the home. Mernick ran past the mom who had just woken up, grabbed the two children and handed them to the officers.
The officers got the family out, while Mernick stayed behind to see if anyone else was still inside.
Normally when firefighters run into a burning building, they are wearing protective gear.
“I had jeans and a T-shirt,” Mernick said. “But that was all part of it. That made me realize how quickly I had to move, and we had to get that team up there, and we had to get out. There was no time to spare.”
Mernick’s wife was still outside, waiting for her husband to return.
“She told me that she was never really worried about me,” Mernick added. “But I could hear her yelling my name, wanting me to get out.”
When he did finally emerge, the officers told Mernick everyone was accounted for.
“So, at that point, I just went back to my truck, to my wife and had another hot wiener,” he said.
The first responders got the family out just in time.
“Within minutes, the fire was raging in the attic space above the third floor and getting into the third floor, so it was pretty intense,” Mernick explained.
“These guys were definitely part of a team, and we worked together seamlessly. That’s what really saved the day there,” he added.
Mernick said he hopes his actions inspire more people to become firefighters. He also warned that no one should attempt to do what he did without proper training.
“The conditions warranted the actions, and it gave me a mission, and the mission was to move as fast as possible to get to the place where we knew we needed to go,” he added.
On Thursday, House Speaker Joe Shekarchi issued a citation to Mernick, recognizing him for his bravery.
To Mernick, being a firefighter is the best job in the world.
And as for the hot wiener, he said, “It was pretty satisfying.”