‘I’m very fortunate to be here today’: Burn victim shares his story about fire safety

MADISON, Wis. — A Platteville man is sharing his experiences with fire as a way of teaching fire safety during holiday weekends and summer months.

Scott Travis was only 9-years-old when he had his first experience with fire. Attending the UW-Platteville homecoming parade, a friend of Travis threw a firecracker on one of the nearby floats.

Travis noticed the fire and climbed on the float to try and put it out. This is when he received third degree burns on about 60% of his body.

I’m very fortunate to be here today and it definitely changed my life from that moment on,” said Travis. 

Decades later, in 2019, Travis had another incident. This time involving gasoline.

I didn’t sense anything like this was going to happen, everything was just going too well and that’s when you let your guard down, you start to relax and it’s like oh my gosh what just happened,” said Travis. 

Incidents like these are not uncommon though.

Assistant professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin Angela Gibson say the summer months increase the happenings of these events.

Especially when the summer season rolls around we see a lot of people wanting to do bonfires, grilling, burning brushes or cleaning out their yard,” said Gibson. “We have patients come in with pretty substantial flame burn injuries from these events.”

Firefighters for the city of Madison say fire injuries were low during the pandemic. But with safety measures being lifted and more people gathering, these incidents are expected to go back up.

“Anytime there’s an uptick in activity in the community there’s going to be an increase in fires. We saw over the last year with things being slowed due to the pandemic, you know, fire incidents were down some,” said Fire Marshall Ed Ruckriegel. “We can anticipate as people are anxious to get outside and spend time with family and go places and do things that the number of responses will go up.”

Alcohol, carelessness and cooking on too high of heat are some reasons fires get out of control. Ruckriegel and other firefighters go by the saying “stand by your pan” to encourage people to keep an eye on their cooking.

“Anytime you’re dealing with fire be careful, educate your family, have precautionary measures in place, and think about your surroundings and what could happen,” said Travis.

Staying safe is all part of having a great summer.

More information on fire safety can be found on the MFD website.