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Arizona Burn Center


Burn survivor underscores harrowing recovery from house fire

At NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit in Phoenix, burn survivor Boyd Smith shares his story of recovering from a home fire

Born with one leg and no arms, Boyd Smith never let his physical abnormalities deter him from living a normal life; he made a living as a landscaper and even wowed crowds while participating in rodeo competitions.

In 2012, a home fire threatened to destroy Smith's zest for living. He was burned on more than 90 percent of his body and was in a medically induced coma for four months. "I told his wife he wasn't going to make it," said Kevin Foster, director of Burn Services for the Arizona Burn Center, at NFPA's 2015 Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit in Phoenix. "She told me I was wrong."

Following nearly 40 surgeries, Smith recovered. "My life has changed, but life is what you make of it," he told summit attendees. "Fire is the most unique type of trauma your body can have. Your life isn't over [following a burn injury]. It just changes and goes on."

Highlighting a series of case studies, Foster underscored survivor stories similar to Smith's. While the Arizona Burn Center has a survival rate of 98 percent, Foster noted that 75 percent of burn deaths are due to home fires.

For more information on the exorbitant cost of burn injuries, download the 2015 study "Healthcare Costs of Burn Patients From Homes Without Fire Sprinklers."