The Littlest Firefighter, the boy with cancer and the firefighters who loved him-Truth!

“The Littlest Firefighter,” the Story of A Dying Boy and the Phoenix Fire DepartmentTruth!

Summary of eRumor:
A touching story about an unnamed boy who was dying of leukemia.  He told his mother that he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up, so she called their local fire department in Phoenix and with the help of big-hearted “Fireman Bob,” the little boys wish came true.  He was a firefighter for a day with a little uniform and all.  Later, as the end came for him, the firefighters came to the hospital with a ladder truck, climbed up the ladder to his widow, and joined him in his room as he breathed his last.

The Truth:

Although several details in this particular eRumor version of the story are not completely accurate, the story is true.  “Billy” is actually 7-year-old Frank Salazar (his family called him “Bopsy”) and he was the first child to be helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening illness.  The story is from 1981.  It was Make-A-Wish that made the contact with the Phoenix Fire Department as a part of one of three wishes that Bopsy had.  The other two were to visit Disneyland and ride in a hot-air balloon.  All his wishes were fulfilled.

Make-A-Wish contacted firefighter Bob Walp who was well known to children in Phoenix as “Fireman Bob” on the popular “Wallace and Ladmo” television program.  Bopsy was welcomed to a fire station where a custom-made uniform was waiting for him complete with a yellow helmet and coat.  He did not go to any fire scenes that day, but did ride in the fire truck and got to use a fire hose.  The day ended with his being given a firefighter badge.

Later, when Bopsy’s condition worsened and he was in the hospital, it is true that some of his firefighter friends came through his hospital window for a visit.  It was five firefighters, not 16.  They prompted some smiles from Bopsy then left.  He died later that evening.