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Community raises money for firefighter who broke 12 bones during construction site fire

Posted at 11:37 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 00:42:26-05

CINCINNATI — Firefighter Ben Harrison stepped into a burning construction site’s stairwell Monday and fell 12 feet, breaking a bone for each one of them when he landed.

He still did his best to smile after he’d been rushed to the hospital, Cincinnati Firefighters Union Local 48 president Matt Alter said Friday.

“He’s trying to lighten the situation, joke about it,” Alter said. “Wanted me to let everyone know that he rescued an armful of puppies in one arm, an armful of babies in another arm. Got to get the hero story out there.”

Alter and other local firefighters spent Friday night at Dunlap Cafe, where owner Rachel Appenfelder held a fundraiser and raffle to support Harrison’s recovery.

Appenfelder said she hosts periodic fundraisers for a general firefighters’ charity but knew her next one had to be for the person who needed it most. Rhinegeist, Listermann Brewing and the Reds Hall of Fame all donated items for her raffle.

“I just want to raise as much as possible for him and his family,” she said. “This is a business that means something. That’s what is important.”

Harrison is a father, an Army veteran and a 13-year member of the Cincinnati Fire Department, Alter said.

“Really good dude,” he added. “Had a passion for the job.”

Appenfelder said 100% of the money raised Friday night — both through the raffle and the donation box in Harrison’s name — will go to him and his family.

“Not surprised to see the community like this,” Alter said. “The city of Cincinnati has always been good to their firefighters.”

Anyone who would like to donate but did not attend Friday’s fundraiser can leave a cash donation at Dunlap Cafe during business hours.