Firefighter Jason Martinez Speaks for First Time Since Fatal Fire

Fireman Jason Martinez recently returned to work after being badly burned and injured in the same fire that killed firefighter Kevin Bell. 

"You're never promised tomorrow and that's one of the things I realized and I'm taking advantage of life as it goes," Martinez said. 

It has been a long fight back but Martinez was determined to be reunited with the Hartford Fire Department which he's called home for nearly a decade. 

Martinez  admits he's a changed man after surviving that devastating blaze in Oct. 2014. Not only did the fire leave Martinez in rough shape, it claimed the life of fellow fireman Kevin Bell.

"Physically, I've come a long way and I feel a lot better as time went off," Martinez said. "And now, I feel pretty much 100 percent."

At a quick glance, someone wouldn't be able to tell the procedures that were done to treat Martinez's burns. 

"It's a skin graft," Martinez said. "They took it from my right thigh and they placed the skin there."

The 30-year-old spent nearly a month hospitalized at the Bridgeport Burn Center suffering from burns covering 10 percent of his body. 

"Burns to (the) back of my neck, as well as surgery to remove of the cysts on (the) burn as well," Martinez said. 

He was knocked unconscious and fell from a second story window. 

The fire department allowed him to speak to the Troubleshooters on the condition he couldn't talk specifics from the day or about the loss of Bell, all based on the city's ongoing litigation.

But Martinez was able to elaborate on his training. 

"My training even going back in and coming out of the building, the training just reverts back to you and it's like a light switch."

 And for two and a half weeks of his hospital stay, Martinez was sedated before he finally woke up. 

"Just glad to be alive," Martinez said. "But, just knowing I missed two weeks of my life, it was kind of tough at first." 

It would take more than 15 months and three surgeries along with intensive amount of physical therapy every week before coming back. 

"It was tough at first, I'm very independent to have others try and assist me," Martinez said. "I was more hesitant but the physical therapy helped me out."

After the whole experience, he said he wants to just focus on the future. 

"I feel like I did what I had to do at the time, and I think I did the right thing as well. It's unfortunate things turned out the way they did."

The firefighter said he'll always be grateful for his nurses, doctors, a supportive family, fellow firefighters and the community. 

 "It helped me a lot. I received a lot of notes and letters from all over the country," Martinez said "It's definitely a brother, and sister hood, so I definitely want to thank them all for that. Want to thank them all for their support."

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