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Cadet sworn in as firefighter six years after nephew was saved from Akron house fire

Posted at 11:49 AM, Apr 24, 2017

John Life experienced one of those full circle of life moments Monday afternoon when he was sworn in as an Akron firefighter during a ceremony at the Akron-Summit County Public Library.

On Labor Day 2011, Life's 3-year-old nephew, Zinan Life, was pulled from a burning home on Beardsley Street in Akron.

"I really don't talk about or try to think about it much," Life said. "It's still some raw emotions."

Lt. Paul Kittle and firefighter Demond Dobson found the boy unconscious and unresponsive in an upstairs bedroom.

The boy was rushed to the first floor where Captain William Howe began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the way to an ambulance.

Zinan survived as did his 5-year-old brother, Issac Life, who was found hiding under a blanket in the basement by Lt. David Simms.

The dramatic rescue helped inspire John Life to become an Akron firefighter.

During search and rescue training, John Life was stunned when his instructor, Lt. Dobson, told the cadets about his role in saving a young boy's life six years ago.

"Right there, it was just such a rush of emotions like, 'That's my nephew.' It's unbelievable to actually meet-- out of all the circumstances, out of anything that could happen in the world-- the guy who's teaching you is the guy who saved your family," John Life said.

During the ceremony where 32 new firefighters were sworn in, Lt. Dobson pinned the badge on John Life's uniform.

"For us to be able to relate to a certain incident that made a change for them, be part of him walking into the fire department, it's really special," Dobson said.

Zinan Life and his family went onto the stage during as the cadets took the oath. Zinan could be seen raising his hand and repeating the oath as well.

When he asked what he thought of his uncle becoming a firefighter, he said, "I think it's really, really cool."