MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A volunteer firefighter was severely injured while responding to a call early Monday morning.

Ryan Sabo was responding with the all-volunteer Gibbon Fire Department, offering mutual aid at a welding business in nearby Fairfax.

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A steel bi-fold door fell on him, pinning him underneath.

“It was quite the fire. When we got there the roof was completely caved in,” Assistant Fire Chief Toby Bruns said.

When a call comes in, volunteers like Sabo respond in Gibbon and neighboring communities.

“He drops what he’s doing, runs out the door,” wife Nickie Sabo said.

The father of two has been a firefighter for eight years. Bruns says the 40-year-old was moving a hose early Monday to help put out the fire at a welding business, when a steel door fell on him.

“Anytime you see one of your men down, [it’s the] biggest nightmare you can possibly have,” Bruns said.

Ryan Sabo’s lower back was fractured. The door broke his pelvis and crushed his femur in three places, requiring surgery and a titanium rod.

“Unfortunately that didn’t come with super powers. He’s kind of sad about that. To me, he’s already kind of a superhero anyway, but he would never say that,” Sabo said.

Six fellow volunteers helped lift the door off of him, while two more pulled him out. Sabo says she’s glad her husband was surrounded by a team of passionate public servants.

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“To have that group of dedicated firemen next to him when a tragedy strikes, that’s why they do all this training,” Sabo said.

Firefighter is a position Ryan Sabo chooses. He works full time as an auto mechanic — a job it will likely take weeks, if not months, to get back to.

(credit: David Spencer)

(credit: David Spencer)

“I guess we just have to take things day by day and see how it goes,” Sabo said. “As soon as he can, and as soon as he’s able, he’ll be right there on the truck again.”

Bruns says the city does have insurance for volunteer firefighters. The Gibbon Fire Department plans to hold a fundraiser for the Sabo family once Ryan is home to help with expenses above what insurance covers, and to help offset Ryan missing work.

Until then, a fund has been set up to help the family:

Ryan Sabo Benefit Account
c/o MinnWest Bank
P.O. Box 67
Gibbon, MN 55335

Donations are accepted at any MinnWest Bank.

Click here to donate to his Go Fund Me account.

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Eighteen-thousand of the 20,000 firefighters in Minnesota are volunteers. Without them, many small communities would not have fire protection.

Jennifer Mayerle