Firefighter Mark Reed is making gestures with his hands.
He is communicating by making facial expressions.
And, at times, he's even managing to smile at his family members.
These are all signs that the severly injured Buffalo firefighter is improving, fire officials say.
"He's improving, and he's going in the right directions," Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo said. "We're very, very, very hopeful, and his family is very thankful for all the prayers."
Reed, 36, still remained in serious condition Thursday in Erie County Medical Center, where he was undergoing major reconstruction surgery on his face and head. The surgery was expected to last six to 10 hours.
Reed was battling an arson fire at a vacant Wende Street house June 10 when the brick chimney collapsed.
The 10-year veteran of the Buffalo Fire Department suffered severe head injuries, several rib fractures, a punctured lung, massive bone and muscle injuries, facial fractures and right leg injuries. Doctors amputated his right leg June 19 because of an infection.
Reed, who has been a patient in ECMC ever since the fire, is no longer in a drug-induced coma and is now breathing on his own, according to fire officials.
"He's still considered in very serious condition," Lombardo said. "He's still off the respirator, and he's not in a coma anymore."
Doctors performed a tracheotomy, and there is a tube down his throat, which prevents him from speaking, fire officials said.
Despite his severe injuries, Reed has responded to stimuli.
"He's responding very well to his family," Lombardo said. "We're just limiting the visitors because we're afraid of infection."
Reed's wife, Nancy, and his parents, Edward and Barbara, remain with Reed, praying for his recovery.
The Rev. Joseph F. Moreno of St. Lawrence Catholic Church was also among those who visited Reed in the hospital last week.
"From what I understand, he's making a little comeback," Moreno said. "He's coming along in the right direction. Apparently, things are going well for him."
Buffalo Fire Department and union officials have set up a benefit fund for any members of the public wishing to help Reed.
Donations, made out to "Benefit of Mark Reed," may be dropped off at any Citizens Bank or Tops Markets location, at Fire Department headquarters on 195 Court St. or the office of Local 282, Buffalo Professional Firefighters, at 255 Delaware Ave.