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SALT LAKE CITY — Captain Steve Crandall is one of guys you want to rescue you if you're ever stuck on the side of a building or cliff, or buried in a trench.
He works with the Salt Lake City Fire Department's Heavy Rescue team. When Engine 5 rolls out of the fire station, it's usually headed to a life or death situation and often Capt. Crandall is among those inside.
"Any time any human being, whether it be a child that falls in a storm drain or a worker at an industrial site becomes entangled, trapped, and has an emergency within those spaces, that's one of our rescue capabilities," he said.
Capt. Crandall is modest about the extreme rescues he's led or been a part of. He always focuses the spotlight on his fellow firefighters. But those men and women say Capt. Crandall is why many people are still alive today.
"The guy really knows what he's talking about," said Capt. Todd Hoover. "We're fortunate to have him."
Capt. Fred Anstee added, "We wouldn't have the heavy rescue team without Steve."
Capt. Crandall performed his first rescue when he was 17 years old. He was not a firefighter yet, but he was an avid rock climber.
"I started rock climbing when I was 14, took a class and have been climbing ever since," he explained. "So, that's how it all started. It was a girl that was entangled and trapped and I rescued her."
That rescue affirmed Capt. Crandall's desire to help others. Two decades later he's still doing what he loves. His colleagues say the years have given him a tough exterior, but inside he's a teddy bear.
Paramedic Ty Shepherd said, "He's actually a very emotional guy. I've seen him cry in movies."
Capt. Crandall and the Heavy Rescue team often can be found scaling a building, or deep inside a trench helping a construction worker. Sometimes their rescues involve helping someone off a cliff. Like all firefighting jobs, what they do is dangerous, so they train whenever they can.
When asked why people do this job - the extreme rescues, the days of training, the hours away from home -- Capt. Crandall said for him it's simple.
"I don't have any particular story or great insight to that stuff. It's just what I do," he said.
Capt. Crandall is one of the nation's experts on heavy rescues and has written several books on the topic.