ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KTVI) — Michigan firefighter Arlydia Bufford was shot last month while eating at an Applebee’s restaurant. She is recovering at a rehab facility, but a surprise will be waiting for her when she gets home.
Firefighters have been hard at work making sure her home is safe for her return.
“She doesn’t know this,” Kinloch Fire Chief Kevin Stewart said. “I’ve been working with the family, making sure they’ve been taken care of. As we got closer to realizing that she’s going to be coming soon, I asked the parents, ‘What is it that we can do to help make the home safe and make it more comfortable for Arlydia and the entire family?'”
Stewart said he put out a request through the St. Louis Area Fire Chiefs Association, and many firefighters, some who have never met Bufford, showed up to the family’s home to help a fellow first responder.
“I wanted to help out our fellow firefighter and help out the family. That’s part of our family, and when it happened, it hit home,” said Marques Blackmon, Kinloch battalion chief.
Stewart said Bufford, who was shot June 22, may be able to go home in the first week of August.
The home needed new flooring in Bufford’s bedroom and in the hallway that leads to her room to make sure it was even safe for her to walk on during recovery. Stewart said other repairs include work on an electrical issue and a back deck.
“It’s the least that we could do, give her a nice floor to walk on, a new beginning, something nice to look at, just to help with her recovery,” University City Fire Dept Captain Daniel Jones said. “It’s just the essence of being a fireman.”
Stewart said Bufford’s doctors are amazed at her recovery.
“She’s walking, she’s talking, she’s having conversations, she’s joking, she’s in good spirits and she’s determined to get back to work,” he said.
“She’s a wonderful, wonderful girl, very outgoing, smart, just amazing, amazing girl, do anything for you, I’d do anything for her,” said fellow firefighter and Kinloch Fire Protection District captain Darion Meeks said.
Stewart also said Bufford’s father crashed his vehicle while rushing to see his daughter after she was shot and firefighters are trying to figure out a way to get the family another vehicle as well.
“We are forever grateful to our brothers and sisters in the fire service who continue to stand with us and continue to stand with Arlydia,” he said.