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HUSBAND AND WIFE VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS USE THEIR SKILLS DURING BLAZE AT THEIR HOME

For most people, if they opened their garage door and found thick, black smoke pouring out, their first instinct would be to run.

That wasn't the case for a volunteer firefighting couple in Barker last weekend.

They immediately wanted to get into the garage and fight the fire.

Janice and Franklin Rider Jr. arrived at their West Somerset home at 9:30 p.m. last Saturday. When they pressed the garage door opener, the door opened and thick smoke spilled out.

The family dog came running out, apparently having escaped fire in the house by running into the garage through a dog door.

After calling 911, the Riders immediately ran back to the house and headed to a van in the garage to pull out their firefighting gear.

Janice Rider didn't make it. She said she slipped on the garage floor and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital with a broken arm.

When she returned home, the fire had been contained in the living room, and only smoke and water damage remained.

"I cried and cried on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but I'm trying to be positive," she said this week. "We are moving and this house is for sale, so everything will be new."

Janice Rider said crews are sealing and repainting and putting in new carpets. She said the repairs are covered by insurance.

Rider said she and her husband have been active volunteers with the Barker Fire Department since the 1990s and met each other there. She said three other couples are also part of the department, and that a growing number of women are becoming firefighters.

She called the fire at her own home a "scary thing" but added, "outside of our son, firefighting is pretty much our life."

"It's hard to explain, you have to experience. I do it because I like helping people. I enjoy it," Janice Rider said.

This wasn't the first time she has been touched personally by a fire. She said that when she was 10 years old, her house was destroyed by fire.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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