GILBERT, AZ - Gilbert firefighter Mase Mattingly is a man with a message: "Don't give up."
The fact that Mattingly is still on the job is proof of his perseverance. In 2006, just before graduating from the firefighting academy, Mattingly shattered his right ankle, falling from a rock climbing wall.
He was able to return to duty eight months later, with metalpins andplates in his foot. But the pain became unbearable. According to Mattingly, "anything was better than what I was dealing with."
So last October, Mattingly chose to have his leg amputated below the knee. But that didn't stop this firefighter from fighting for his job. "I knew I was going to be a firefighter from the time I broke my ankle to when I amputated it."
National Fire Protection Association standardsprevent anyone with an amputation from being a firefighter. But Mattingly passed all his physical tests.
That prompted Gilbert Town Manager and former Fire Chief Collin DeWitt to make an exception to the NFPA standards and keep Mattingly on the job. According to DeWitt, "we think performance is much more important than a standard."
DeWitt says the NFPA is in the process of rewriting standards for firefighters with amputations, because of recent advances in prosthetics. If that happens, Mase Mattingly could be the poster boy for that change.
And he has a message for anyone else who suffers a serious injury, "Push through, and with the advances in technology, anything is possible."