The firefighters at Belmont Fire Department in Greenville, South Carolina have made a career out of changing lives, but they never could have imagined that their good deeds would one day be reciprocated—and especially not by a cat.
Flame, a handsome orange and white fella, was just a kitten when he wandered into Belmont Fire House two years ago. He was so tiny and malnourished that he couldn’t even be vaccinated, reports Greenville News. The firefighters nursed him back to health with fried chicken and plenty of attention, and before they knew it, he was part of the crew.
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“I came in one day and I saw the guys playing with this kitten,” Fire Chief Anthony Segars recalled to The News.
“Now we’ve had dogs and cats wander up here before, but they’re always gone in a day or so,” he continued. “But a few days later ... the cat was sleeping in the bay. So I asked the guys, ‘Why is the cat here?’ And they told me, ‘He lives here now.'”
So that was that! Even though Flame doesn’t respond to calls, he still has an important job to perform back at the firehouse. He’s become a companion and a source of comfort for the firefighters. “We see a lot of bad stuff,” Segars told The News. “And it’s like he knows, he can sense, that maybe they aren’t having a good day. And he will just rub up on them and sit in their lap, and be like, I’m here for you.”
Segars explained that Flame sleeps on, in, and under the fire trucks, and when the fire alarm sounds, he simply moves out of the way. Then he patiently sits by the door waiting for them to return.
When Flame isn’t busy keeping the firefighters happy during long shifts away from home, he’s busy updating his wildly popular Instagram account, which is how he caught the eye of cat behaviorist and star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” Jackson Galaxy.
Galaxy recently stopped by the firehouse to film Flame in action for the “Cat From Heaven” segment of the show. The feline behavior fixer, who admitted he had never met a fire cat before, was blown away by the cat’s relationship with the firefighters.
“That was amazing,” he told The News after filming wrapped. “Flame gives new meaning to the concept of a working cat. Sometimes it’s not about catching mice. It’s about unconditional love and support. And these guys have got plenty of that now.”
Think Flame is the cat’s pajamas? Follow him on Instagram at @flamethearsoncat and stop by and say hello when you’re in Greenville!