PHL17 Community Heroes: Seriously Burned Local Firefighter’s Road to Recovery

PHL17 Morning News

PHL17 along with Barb’s Harley-Davidson is setting out to honor local community heroes. This week, David Smiley Jr. was honored after he almost lost his life fighting a house fire.

On the morning of March 14th, the Smiley family’s life was changed forever. Dave Smiley, Sr. received a call about his son, Dave Jr.,  who had been seriously injured while fighting a house fire with the Minquas Fire Company in Mill Creek Delaware.

“He fell through the second floor. They didn’t have a lot of visible fire and he went into a room to hit the fire. When he did that, he fell between the rafters and became stuck,” said Dave, Sr.

He described Dave, Jr. as a quick thinker and said he was able to release himself “someway, somehow.” His son actually walked out of the house after falling through the collapsed floor and suffering significant burns.

The second and third degree burns cover ten percent of Dave, Jr.’s body affecting his ankles, hands, neck, ears, stomach and back. Dave, Sr. provided up-to-the-minute information regarding Dave, Jr.’s condition via Facebook.


Within hours of the accident, social media was flooded with an outpouring of support from those near and far using the hashtag #SmileyStrong. The Smileys are well known among first responders. Dave, Sr. has been involved in the firefighter community for four decades and two out of his three sons followed in his footsteps. He said Dave, Jr. truly appreciates everyone reaching out.

“He appreciates every visitor. He literally reads every card. I think he’s overwhelmed. The nurses say he is thriving on the visits.”

He had one request for his father following the ordeal. That request was to find the front piece of his helmet. With the help of the folks in New Castle County, Dave, Sr. and one of his sons went back to the scene of the fire to look.

“We dug for about an hour. I saw this big blob and said ‘What’s that?’ I flipped it over and saw the 23 and it was like ‘Oh my gosh.'”

Like his father, Dave, Jr. also used social media to thank everyone.

Dave, Jr. has been doing exceptionally well during his recovery and is expected to leave the Crozer-Chester Burn Unit on March 29th.

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