By Chanda Temple
Every day after work, Keena Dowdell goes home and his three daughters jump into his arms. He’s Super Dad to them.
On March 16, Dowdell’s title was elevated to superhero when he broke down a door to rescue a disabled man trapped inside a burning home in the 400 block of Third Street North in Birmingham. On Friday, Birmingham Fire and Rescue Services named Dowdell an honorary firefighter.
“In our eyes, you are an absolute hero,” said BFRS Chief Cory D. Moon, who presented Dowdell a certificate and other items. “I know the family members of the man you saved, appreciate what you did. What you did was spectacular.”
The man remains in stable condition at a Birmingham hospital.
Dowdell, 29, is a lead utility locator for United States Infrastructure Co. He had just wrapped doing advance prep work for an upcoming sewer project for a contractor, when he decided to sit in his work truck and go over a work order. While he was doing that, he heard a faint scream.
He first thought the scream was coming from a woman. As he ran closer to the scream, he found it coming from a home. Dowdell asked the man inside if he could escape through a window. The man was disabled and said he could not.
Then, Dowdell ran to his truck to grab a shovel and tried to break a window. But because there were burglar bars on the window, Dowdell knew he wouldn’t have enough time to do a window rescue.
Dowdell went to the front door, but the man couldn’t open the locked door. Dowdell forced his way into the home, which was already filling with smoke and flames. The man fell onto the front porch, and Dowdell carried him to the front yard. Two other men arrived and helped Dowdell carry the man across the street.
“It feels good. I’m glad I was able to save that man,” said Dowdell, of Forestdale. “The fire sounded like a big bon fire.”
Dowdell appeared at Friday’s fire department recognition with his supervisor, Dustin Baggett, who said that Dowdell is a natural leader who dives in to help others at USIC.
“We, (at USIC) set out every day to protect the infrastructure of our community, and (Dowdell) went a step beyond that,” Baggett said.
Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said he’s proud of Dowdell’s actions, and that Dowdell’s actions only emphasize the city’s motto of “Putting People First.”
“When he broke down that door to save a man in a burning home, that is one of the most heroic things someone could do. I salute him for his bravery and for his caring spirit,” Mayor Woodfin said.
People in Birmingham and firefighters are still talking about what Dowdell did and his bravery. But some of his biggest fans talking are his daughters.
After hearing what Dowdell did, his daughters now have a new name for him: Superhero Dad.