Firefighter pays past-due utility bill for struggling family

Given that he was laid off during the Great Recession, it’s unlikely that Ryan McCuen, of the Clinton Township Fire Department in Michigan, has a lot of money to just throw around, even if he did start a lawn service before he was hired back last year.

McCuen is getting plenty of well-deserved attention nationwide this week because he paid the utility bill of a family that included two disabled children, the Macomb Daily says.

The parents had fallen behind on their payment installments and the electricity had been turned off.

Having it turned back on cost McCuen more than $1,000.

I don’t know why I did it, but I do know those kids needed some help,” he said. “I was glad to do it.”

On Feb. 12, the Clinton Township fire crew was called to a house on Colonial Drive for a non-emergency medical call for the family in need of help.

The crew soon learned one of the family’s children is hooked up full-time to a ventilator to keep the child breathing. Due to the absence of electricity, the child on the ventilator had to be transported to the hospital to keep him alive.

In addition, the family had fallen behind on their rent and were trying to catch up on their bills.

The family had paperwork from a doctor to prevent the power from being shut off, but it was not filled out properly so DTE Energy disconnected their electricity.

That’s when McCuen, 35, stepped in and paid the entire $1,023 bill, explaining the situation to the DTE customer service representative. The customer service rep assured him the power would be given the highest priority.

“This might sound corny, but we are here to help,” McCuen said. “There’s a lot of people who do good work: Firemen, cops, teachers, and they don’t get any recognition, so I wasn’t seeking any, I’m just trying to give back.”

To show their appreciation, the mother baked cookies and gave him a balloon, while the father gave fruit, the paper says.

“I could have bought something for myself, but it wouldn’t feel as good,” he said. “I didn’t think of it as an extraordinary act — but I hope it inspires other people to do something similar.”