Burned ranger returns to work - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Burned ranger returns to work

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Sept. 21, 2005

Mitchell County -  A Georgia Forestry Commission ranger is back on the job after recovering from life threatening burns.

26 year old David Baldwin was burned in January while fighting a grass fire.  He spent months in a burn unit in Augusta.

 Baldwin says his burns inspired him to return to work.  "It just gave me that much more motivation to get back, and to get to 100%, where I could give a helping hand," said Baldwin.

In January , Baldwin was off duty and burning a field. While trying to save his dog who had wandered into the fire, Baldwin found himself surrounded by 12 foot flames.

"I burned my hands from covering my face as I ran through.  As I got almost all the way out, I tripped and fell," said Baldwin."  

 His blue jeans caught fire and badly burned his legs.

"They burned up both my legs. This is the left leg, and it burned up higher on the left leg than on the right leg," he said.

Baldwin suffered second and third degree burns on 36 % of his body. 

"The pain of getting burned was not as bad as the healing process. It was just excruciating," Baldwin said.

 Baldwin has scars on his face, hands, and legs from nearly a dozen operations and skin grafts, but he never hesitated about returning to his job with the Georgia Forestry Commission.

"Fighting fire. Being in the woods everyday. It's just peaceful, and I enjoy my job," he said.

Baldwin returned to full duty September 1st and within days faced his first fire.

"It was just a goal that I had. When you get hurt, you work real hard to just overcome anything," said Baldwin

David Baldwin will speak at schools and clubs in October, during Fire Prevention Awareness Month.