‘It gives me goosebumps’: Lakeland firefighters build play set for injured firefighter’s daughter

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The fierce firefighters’ bond was on full display in Lakeland this month, when a crew of firefighters made sure a 2-year-old got the play set her dad planned.

“This is a great example for her and my son to see how people come together to help out family because that’s what we are,” said Alex Pickup-Crawford, a Lakeland firefighter.

Pickup-Crawford has been a firefighter at Fire Station 1 in Lakeland for over four years.

In late June, he was hitching a trailer to his truck. It’s something he’s done hundreds of times.

“The trailer slid off the hitch ball and just took my fingers with it,” he said.

After a panicked trip the hospital, Pickup-Crawford lost large portions of two fingers on his left hand.

His first thought was about his children, AJ, 14, and Charley, 2.

“On our days off, I’m daddy daycare, take care of her,” he said, pointing to Charley.

For Charley’s second birthday, Pickup-Crawford was planning to assemble a big, beautiful play set.

Charley was just reaching that high-energy, highly active age.

When speaking with a lieutenant about his injury, he said how disappointed he was that he wouldn’t be able to build it.

“Next morning I get a call from my crew that was coming off shift – guy said ‘Are you home?’ I said ‘Yes, I am,’” he remembered. “Seven of them show up and they said ‘We’re ready, let’s start building this thing.'”

Courtesy: Alex Pickup-Crawford

Crews from several stations within Lakeland Fire Department, up to 20 firefighters total, spent days putting together the play set, a fence and laying pine bark.

Charley loves it.

Her dad tells 8 On Your Side the gesture still gives him goosebumps.

“Our time off is our time off with our family. They took that time to invest in me and my family,” said Pickup-Crawford. “There’s no words to describe how big of a bond that is. That’s why I just love Lakeland Fire, the men and women in it, we just all take care of each other. This was just a blessing.”

Courtesy Alex Pickup-Crawford

Pickup-Crawford plans to return to work as a firefighter once his motor functions have fully returned.


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