As the first responders to most emergency calls, firefighters often handle many other tasks beyond just putting out fires.
But it’s not every day their line of duty calls for cooking skills.
Latoya Riley, who lives in an apartment on Ashley Hall Plantation Road in West Ashley, was recently preparing pork chops for dinner for her two sons when the grease she was heating up caught fire.
She quickly moved the pan to the sink, burning her hands in the process. When water hit the grease, flames shot up and the fire alarm started wailing.
Riley called 911 and the Charleston Fire Department’s Station 16, which is down the street from Riley’s apartment, showed up right away.
Capt. Ryan Delk said the firefighters were in the middle of making their own dinner when they got the call.
“We got there, made sure everything was out, and tried to clear as much smoke as we could,” Delk said.
Riley waited outside for her mother to pick her up and take her to the hospital for the burn wounds on her hands.
After the smoke cleared, Delk noticed something was baking in the oven. He took it out, then decided to grab a new pan and finish frying the pork chops. He put the meal on the table for the kids and even cleaned up the kitchen afterwards.
“She had two small children, so I didn’t want them to have to wait until 10 or 11 o’clock to eat supper,” he said.
Plus, he’s no stranger to the frying pan.
“I’m South Carolina born and raised, so fried food was always our specialty,” he said.
The city of Charleston’s Customer Service Initiative Committee heard the story and recognized Delk’s kindness last month with a quarterly customer service award.
“In this line of work, you have to be a people-person,” Delk said. “It’s not just spraying water on a fire.”
Riley didn’t know Delk cooked for her children until the newspaper called recently to ask her about it.
“I did notice there was something missing when I got back, but I didn’t really know what happened,” she said. “You can tell him I said, ‘Thank you.'”
Reach Abigail Darlington at 843-937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.