Michael “Sully” Sullivan has responded to many fires during a 17-year career with the North Palos Fire Protection District, but an Oct. 6 house fire in Palos Park left him with serious injuries that may threaten his future as a firefighter.
At one point during the ordeal, he was trapped under approximately 5,300 pounds of the plaster and cement.
Sullivan’s surgeries and medical treatment will place a financial strain on his family. To help relieve that stress, friends and family will hold a benefit, from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday at Krapil’s Steakhouse and Patio, 6600 W. 111th St. in Worth.
The event will feature a buffet, beverages, entertainment, raffles, split the pot and silent auctions, including sports memorabilia. Tickets are $40 and $50 at the door.
The situation on Oct. 6 was dire.
Firefighters from several departments responded to a fully involved attic fire with reports of elderly residents still in the house. It was later learned that no one was in the house at the time of the fire.
Sullivan, 44, and his colleagues entered the living room of the house and prepared to pull the ceiling to expose the fire. Minutes later, however, a large section of the ceiling, which was which was constructed of approximately two inches of plaster and cement, landed on top of the crew.
Several firefighters were able to escape out the front door, while two others exited through a window in another room. Sullivan and another firefighter remained trapped. The other firefighter, who was unconscious, was pulled out the house by fellow firefighters. Sullivan, meanwhile, was trapped under approximately 5,300 pounds of the plaster and cement.
Sullivan, an Evergreen Park resident, had to make the call that every firefighter dreads to hear much less having to make — a “mayday” call. He couldn’t move, and firefighters needed several minutes to extricate Sullivan and remove him from the building.
Three firefighters were hospitalized as a result of the fire. Two returned to work a few weeks later after recovering from their injuries. Sullivan was not as fortunate. He suffered serious injuries to both knees and a shoulder injury, all which require surgery.
Colleagues describe Sullivan as a great friend and coworker who’s always willing to help someone professionally and personally. Now Sullivan’s friends and coworkers want to return the favor.
A laid-off union plumber, Sullivan was working as a part-time firefighter. He faces a long road to recovery. So far, he’s undergone a surgery on one of his knees and will have at least two more surgeries in the next few months, which will be followed by extensive rehabilitation. He doesn’t know if he’ll recover sufficiently to return to the job he loves.