New Hampshire

Firefighter Using Sign Language Befriends Non-Verbal Boy

A 9-year-old non-verbal New Hampshire boy made an unlikely friend Thursday — a firefighter fluent in sign language.

Just before 6 p.m. Thursday, the Manchester Fire Department responded to alarms going off at an apartment on West Clarke street. Amy McCall was returning home with her son, Tegan Kerr, as firefighters arrived.

"All of the fire alarms in the building were going off. On every floor," McCall said.

Thankfully, there was no emergency.

"When we got there, we investigated, and it ended up being burned food," said Lt. Mike Rheault.

The false alarm gave way to a meeting that may have been meant to happen. Rheault and Kerr met one another in the hallway as the firemen were exiting the building. Rheault asked if Kerr knew sign language after seeing he didn't verbally respond after speaking to him.

"I grew up with deaf parents, so my whole life, I've been around deaf people. My first language was sign language," Rheault said.

It's a language Kerr knows well after being born non-verbal with cerebral palsy.

The two shared a moment, speaking in sign language in the hallway. That moment excited both Kerr and his mother.

"To have someone that he looks up to, a firefighter, stand there and take the time to talk to him and be able to understand him was just amazing, as his mother, and I know amazing for Tegan,"McCall said.

Kerr remained excited all the way until it was time for him to fall asleep.

"It was so sweet," McCall said. "Tegan actually rewatched the video on my phone probably 10 times before bed."

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