Burn Survivor and His Brother Find Healing and Purpose After Tragic Home Fire
Josh Gropper was experiencing a day like any other and preparing for a final exam for law school in Boston, when his father called to tell him that Danny, his younger brother, had been badly injured in a house fire. While the cause of the fire has not been fully determined, at the time of the incident, there were no working smoke alarms in the building. Danny, Josh was told, had suffered severe injuries, with burns covering 78 percent of his body. Danny survived but his recovery would be slow and take many years. In the ensuing days after the fire, Josh moved closer to home in New York, changed schools, and dedicated himself to helping his younger brother heal. One of the first things Josh did was find a good lawyer to guide Danny and their family through the legal process. Josh says this experience made him realize how critical it is to have a quality, caring lawyer by his family’s side, someone who was a strong advocate for Danny and others like him whose lives have been tragically altered by severe injuries. Through this revelation, rather than continue to pursue his path in corporate law, Josh changed the course of his professional career and moved into personal injury law. His work and devotion to helping his brother live a full life led him to the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors where Danny and their family found the ongoing peer support and resources they needed and a place to connect with others. It also opened the door for Josh to see how he could combine his knowledge and expertise in the law with his true passion for helping people in need. As Josh tells it, his entire adult life has been shaped by his and his brother’s experience. Today, through his law practice he has been able to support survivors and empower them to live their best life; his law firm has also become partners of the Phoenix Society’s mission and programs. Together with other fire and life safety advocates, Josh continues to educate people about effective burn prevention, burn care and equality, and raise awareness of fire safety, including the importance of having working smoke alarms in homes as a first line of defense in saving lives. Read Josh and Danny’s powerful story on the Phoenix Society’s website. Resources including tip sheets, videos, and related information is available on NFPA’s smoke alarms webpage.