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Windsor firefighter reunites with man he saved 25 years ago

Veteran firefighter Greg Lake met Daniel Graham May 1, 2018 for a coffee about 25 years after rescuing him from a burning building in Windsor.
Veteran firefighter Greg Lake met Daniel Graham May 1, 2018 for a coffee about 25 years after rescuing him from a burning building in Windsor. - Carole Morris-Underhill

WINDSOR, N.S. — Daniel Graham doesn't remember anything from the afternoon of Nov. 11, 1992 — but the man who saved his life certainly does.

Graham was just six months old when the apartment complex he was living in caught fire.

Veteran firefighter Greg Lake, who served 31 years active duty with the Windsor Fire Department and continues to provide dispatching services today, was marching alongside his comrades in the Remembrance Day parade when the pager went off indicating a possible apartment fire on O'Brien Street.

“I said to the chief that it's right next door to my old house, which was right around the corner. The chief, myself and the other deputy, broke rank and we ran up around,” said Lake, who was a deputy fire chief at the time.

Other firefighters raced to the station to get equipment.

“We could see the smoke coming out from around the door when we first got there. There was just a whisper of smoke, nothing real heavy,” Lake recalled.

They could hear Graham's mother screaming for help from the second floor.

Deputy fire chief John Sweet broke in the door and attempted to enter the building but the smoke was overwhelming.

Lake ran around the outside of the building and saw Sandra Graham holding her baby out of the window, trying to prevent him from inhaling the smoke.

Using a long overcoat that he borrowed from a fellow Remembrance Day participant, Lake made a makeshift safety net.

“I just wrapped it around both arms, held it close to my chest, stood right under the window and I said 'drop the baby'. She looked down to see what I had and she dropped it. I thought 'uh oh, I have to catch him now,'” said Lake, chuckling a little as he looked over at a full-grown Graham.

Shortly thereafter, Windsor's units arrived on scene and used a ladder to save Graham's mother.

“It all happened in about 15-20 minutes.”

Veteran firefighter Greg Lake and Daniel Graham pore over old clippings as they discuss the events of Nov. 11, 1992.
Veteran firefighter Greg Lake and Daniel Graham pore over old clippings as they discuss the events of Nov. 11, 1992.

The pair met for coffee on May 1 — the first time they ever sat down to discuss that fateful day.

“I've been meaning to meet him for quite a while,” said Graham.

The 25-year-old learned of their connection while looking through his mother's photo albums and began to ask questions about it.

“I knew of him because of this particular article,” said Graham, holding a well-preserved newspaper clipping. “It was in my mother's photo album so I've seen it quite a few times.”

Graham, who mainly grew up in the Valley, said he met Lake's wife and daughter at local restaurants in town long before reaching out to meet him.

As he was volunteering with Harvest House's food bank delivery, he was presented with Lake's contact information — and that prompted him to finally make the call.

The two pored over several clippings and photos from the 1992 incident while grabbing a bite to eat in downtown Windsor. Graham, who lives in Windsor, said “it was nuts” meeting Lake for the first time, laughing with him as they swapped information and stories.

Graham asked what caused the fire and Lake explained it was due to paint cans being left too close to a hot water heater.

Lake said he was surprised by the amount of media coverage the event initially received. He said he was fairly certain his baby catch was the first one in the history of the Windsor Fire Department, but still didn't expect to be interviewed by radio, TV and print reporters.

Lake said he didn't think much about his heroic actions that day as it was simply what he signed on to do.

“I was doing my job. I joined the fire department to save life and limb. It was something special but I didn't really think it was worth all of the hullabaloo that they were making of it,” Lake said, smiling.

Veteran firefighter Greg Lake and Daniel Graham pore over old clippings as they discuss the events of Nov. 11, 1992. Graham was an infant when Lake saved his life.
Veteran firefighter Greg Lake and Daniel Graham pore over old clippings as they discuss the events of Nov. 11, 1992. Graham was an infant when Lake saved his life.

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