Bristow's Fire Chief Back At Work Following Explosion

Monday, April 13th 2015, 7:47 pm
By: Tess Maune

Bristow's fire chief was severely injured after a battery box exploded in inside his fire station. He was knocked off a four-foot step then knocked unconscious.

The chief said he doesn't remember any of it, just waking up at the hospital, knowing his job as chief was far from over.

Now, he may only be able to do office work, but after a hospital stay, several surgeries and close to two months home recovering, Chief David McSpadden is back on the job.

“I feel good,” McSpadden said. “The Lord's keeping an eye on me.”

A faint line now stretches across his face. It's a symbol, a scar to remind him that he survived.

2/20/2015 Related Story: Bristow Fire Chief Out Of Hospital After Surviving Explosion

“Stepped up there, boom,” he said. “Oh I'm very lucky.”

McSpadden has been fighting fire for almost 31 years, and, admittedly, he's played with fire some in that time too.

“I was a little dangerous in my younger days,” he said with a laugh.

One of his old, now melted, helmets hangs in his office as a reminder of the dangers that come with the job; though, miraculously, he'd never really been hurt until this winter.

“As a firefighter, you're used to being the guy they call to go out and help someone, and February 10th, the call went out and it was me,” McSpadden said.

That's the day he was getting ready to work on this 1984 tanker truck, it had been donated to the department and needed some fine-tuning before it was ready go out in the field.

“I come around here and smell battery acid,” he recalled.

After that, McSpadden only remembers walking up to the door. He doesn't remember the explosion that came close to taking his life; but the chief's brush with death doesn't seem to faze him.

“I could have died. You can die driving down the highway out here,” he said.

The State Fire Marshal's office said electrical energy ignited vapors from batteries charging under the passenger seat.

The force of the blast broke McSpadden's spine, damaged his eye socket and ear drum and severely cut his face.

The chief also broke his jaw, so his mouth was wired shut for more than a month. That's how he learned he had a hidden talent.

“Well, actually, I could almost be a ventriloquist because I could talk and you could understand me just fine,” McSpadden said.

His injuries didn't take away his sense of humor; but the accident did give him a new appreciation for the firefighters who saved him, the community that prayed for him and the chance he'll eventually get to suit up again.

“Wasn't my time. The good Lord was watching out for me. He's been watching out for me for 31 years, I guarantee ya that,” McSpadden said.