Rescue Ronnie is a Midstate hero.
"Rescue Ronnie says remember to play safe and practice fire safety every
day," reads the first page of the "Rescue Ronnie" coloring and activity
He's based on beloved firefighter Ronnie Dowell, who battled flames for the Hendersonville fire department for 25 years.
"He was a great big guy, this guy is like a big football player, unbelievable physical strength," said Jamie Steele, Hendersonville fire chief.
His fellow firefighters say Dowell was the perfect guy for this learn not to burn coloring book...designed to teach kids about fire safety
"I think immortalized is probably the best word because Ronnie was all about kids," said Randy Porter, captain. "He loved doing the classes with the kids he loved interacting with them."
Inside the pages of the coloring book, Rescue Ronnie, is the ideal hero, he's strong, smart and fearless. Out in the real-world, Ronnie Dowell was also a hero, but unfortunately, wasn't unstoppable..."
"Losing a child, there's nothing like it," said Beulah Dowell, Ronnie Dowell's mother.
Christmas day 2010, Ronnie left work feeling sick...and what started as pain and nausea ended in a deadly heart attack two days later...
"It's like there's an empty place within my heart," Beulah Dowell said. "I haven't got over it and i don't think i ever will."
As a firefighter Dowell was exposed to smoke and toxins for years, and his family still believes the job may have caused his death.
"When they told me he had passed I was like...'I knew it.'" said Nita Dowell, Ronnie's sister,
Because Dowell didn't technically die on the job, his family received only $50,000 from his life insurance policy.
"Had Ronnie been deemed line of duty benefit, then his family would have collected the federal line of duty death which would have been approximately $4000,000," Steele said.
Chief Steele says other states would have classified Dowell as a line of duty death and he's working with other fire chiefs to bring similar legislation to Tennessee, so families like Dowell's are taken care of.
"It is something that we've got to work on state-wide," Steele said. "It's something that the chief's association has been working on. It's just something we need to change."
And while those that knew him best to fight on behalf of the "real" Ronnie’s family, Rescue Ronnie continues to prevent fires, teaching one child at a time.
"I'm sorry about his passing,"Porter said. "We're all terribly saddened by it but if we had to have a character to live on through our fire prevention program you couldn't have a better one than Ronnie."
Special Report Videos
Porsche tops in annual survey of vehicle quality
DETROIT (AP) -- Porsche is the top performer in an annual survey of new vehicle quality.
BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
AP Photo FX102, FX103
Eds: With BC-US--Dow Record. Adds photos.
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. ...
IN THE NEWS: INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS SAY SURVEILLANCE FOILED PLOT TO BOMB NYSE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S.
VEGAS STRIP-THRILL RIDE
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- If losing your shirt in Sin City isn't enough -- you could soon lose lunch.