WEST VALLEY CITY — Some very special firefighters from West Valley City have made a huge impact on a 6-year-old boy's life.
Mason Fackrell was severely burned as a baby, and growing up with visible scars has at times been very difficult. But with the help of West Valley City firefighters it's getting easier.
Mason isn't shy about what he loves or about the scars on his face. But sometimes it's not easy for other kids to see past them.
"Some kids have called me ugly, and some kids made me laugh. They thought that this was all chocolate," he said.
Mason was burned by cooking oil when he was 18 months old. His grandmother was making scones and placed the oil outside on a table to cool. Mason followed her and grabbed the table, causing it to spill.
His mother, Shaye Fackrell, said, "It happens so quickly and so fast that you never think it's going to happen to you."
She woke that morning to her son screaming in agony. She ran into the bathroom where Mason's grandmother was yelling from the shower.
"As soon as I saw him and his skin was falling off of him, I knew we were in trouble," she said.
Shaye called 911 and within minutes West Valley City firefighters were by her side.
"I remember one grabbing him by his back and looking at me and telling mom, ‘It's going to be OK. We're going to get him there quick, and it's going to be OK.' And off they went," she said.
The quick yet calm reaction from the firefighter gave her the strength to drive to the hospital.
Over the next few years, while Mason endured 14 surgeries, firefighters at burn camp helped him understand the accident. When Mason started kindergarten last year and was teased by other kids, Shaye says West Valley City firefighters once again stepped in.
Firefighter and paramedic Mike Reardon said, "I think as tough as we are sitting around the dinner table, everybody got real quiet when we heard that it wasn't going well for him."
Reardon arranged for Ladder 74 to go to Mason's school. The crew talked about the accident, Mason's scars, and about being firefighters. They even made Mason a junior firefighter in front of his class.
Capt. Dale VanTussenbrook said, "It was a great opportunity for us to go see him and just let the other kids know that he's a normal kid. He's just one of them."
That trip to the school not only made Mason one of the most popular kids that year but it gave him confidence with his classmates. His mother says she will forever be grateful to all the West Valley City firefighters for treating her son like one of their own.
"I don't know if I have words to express how much appreciation I have for them," she said. "I'm glad they are there and I'm so thankful they do the job that they do."
Mason said, "Thank you for telling the people at my school that I got burned. That helped me."
Mason started first grade last week and says he is enjoying it. Firefighters may return to his school to speak to his new classmates.
(Some of the firefighters featured in photos with Mason are from the Salt Lake City Fire Department during burn camp. They too have played a significant role in Mason's recovery.)