Niles community rallying around area firefighters
NILES, Mich. – The Niles community is rallying around two area firefighters battling one of the toughest fights of their lives.
Sitting side by side in the garage of the Niles City Fire Department, Bill McAllister, a lieutenant with NCFD, and Tommy Hall, a volunteer with neighboring Niles Township Fire Department laugh as both of their bosses sit behind them and crack jokes.
It’s a rare moment of downtime for the two men who spent nearly the last 30 years fighting fire, taking care of the injured, and teaching the next generation of first responders in southwest Michigan.
“Even though it may be the same type of call, all calls are different,” said Hall. “And then just the satisfaction of helping, helping other people”
But the duo now needs the community’s help.
“Just doing everyday tasks is much more difficult,” said Hall.
Doctors diagnosed Tommy with thoracic myelopathy last November. It’s a condition that compresses the middle section of his spinal cord. If left untreated, it could lead to limb loss.
“Tremendous pain,” said Hall. “Even going and picking up a Kleenex box would put me to the floor.”
Doctors operated last month and his pain levels dropped dramatically. However, Tommy still faces months of physical therapy and possibly more surgery.
“It’s uncertain if I can go back to frontline firefighting,” said Hall.
“It’s made my faith grow stronger,” said McAllister.
In January, doctors found a cancerous tumor in Bill’s brain. It’s his third brain tumor.
“Through this whole thing, I’ve seen God’s hand in my life,” said McAllister. “He’s got a plan, he really does.”
Doctors removed his tumor in February but needs more treatment. He starts radiation treatments and chemotherapy next Tuesday.
“When there’s a need, a lot of people step forward,” said Niles City Fire Department Captain Dan Wise.
As the two veteran firefighters battle for their future, the Niles community is raising money through t-shirt sales and crowdfunding to help pay for their medical expenses.
“To know that there’s that much support from the community, it blows my mind,” said McAllister. “It floored me.”
“The communication, the thoughts, the cards, really goes a long way,” said Hall.