DeKalb fireman feels ‘blessed’ to catch baby from burning building


The first thing you notice about Robert Sutton, the 31-year-old DeKalb County firefighter of 10 years, is humility. 

Anybody would’ve done what I did, he assures.

I got lucky.

Really, I was blessed.

But it’s hard to know what to say now, after his work to save a baby from a burning Glenwood Road apartment made local news, then national, then international.

“It feels like I’m a celebrity or something,” he said, chuckling as his mind reeled between 911 calls Friday.

Sutton, who works 24-hour shifts at the fire department and then heads to a side job, was filling in for another firefighter Tuesday when dispatch radioed.

The Parc at Glenwood was burning.

Approaching the scene, the crew saw a column of smoke rising from the complex, which isn’t far from where Sutton grew up and where his dad still lives.

“We have a working incident,” the radio said.

That’s bad. It means the fire is serious, perilous, and the crew needs to be ready to go inside.

Sutton started to suit up. 

But then he saw a screen fall from a window and heard a frantic man.

RELATED: Here are the opening dates for 4 popular chains coming to DeKalb

RELATED: Here’s how every DeKalb precinct voted in the 6th (for Jon Ossoff)

“I got a baby, I got a baby!” the father screamed, his voice raspy from inhaling smoke. 

Sutton had never seen anything quite like it. When training firefighters, DeKalb County doesn’t drop fake babies from fake fires or otherwise teach such catches.

But the man was dangling the child, who the fire department said was about 6 months old, desperate to get her out safely.

Sutton started to run toward the building.

He yelled for the man to drop the child.

And the man did.

Sutton caught her, passed her to the medical unit to be checked out and then hurried back to help the father climb down a ladder. 

Gratitude swelled in Sutton.

He felt blessed — he uses this word repeatedly when telling the story — to be there to save the child.

He went up to the father and shook his hand.

After getting the fire taken care of, the crews left and prepared for the next calls. 

Sutton got off Wednesday morning and headed to his second job at an ambulance service in Snellville. He told his wife, Martika, what happened with the baby, but he didn’t dwell on it. 

Soon, he got a call from a higher-up at the fire department saying a local TV news station wanted to talk.

Sutton did the interview and told Martika he “might” be on the news. He asked her to tape it just in case while he went back to work on the ambulance. 

After 5 p.m., he got a phone call from home “with lots of screaming.”

The couple’s boys, Robert, 6, and Jeremiah, 3, told their friends at baseball practice that Dad was on the news.

The story got picked up by more outlets until, Friday morning, one of his fellow firefighters called him over to look at a TV at the firehouse. 

Sutton was on “Good Morning America.”

Then he heard he was on TV in England.

“He deserves all the accolades,” Capt. Eric Jackson, fire department spokesman, said. “We are thrilled.”

After the surprise of national and international praise dwindled, Sutton went back to work Friday.

He held firm to his humility, praising co-workers and department leaders, and expressing gratitude for being “in the right place at the right time.”

Blessed. Blessed. Blessed.

“If I could save a baby everyday,” he said, “I would.” 

RELATED: DeKalb’s Tupac statue disappeared. Now a new one is finally coming.

RELATED: DeKalb cops want to drink coffee with you at this event in Lithonia

Like DeKalb County News Now on Facebook | Follow on Twitter and Instagram

In other news:


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Officials mull removing part of Chattahoochee bridge after drownings
Officials mull removing part of Chattahoochee bridge after drownings

People jumping off a 101-year-old bridge into the Chattahoochee River has been an issue for years. But after two recent drownings, National Park Service officials are considering new safety measures. Joshua Elias Katikla, 20, died Aug. 16 after jumping off the bridge with two friends. Perez G. Tamfu, 17 and a rising senior at Mountain View...
2 free pet adoption deals in Fulton (one expires with the eclipse)
2 free pet adoption deals in Fulton (one expires with the eclipse)

Two organizations in metro Atlanta are giving away animals over the next few days.  The Atlanta Humane Society is waiving the adoption fees of all cats and dogs who are one year or older Friday through Monday at 2:36 p.m., when the solar eclipse occurs in Atlanta.  The "Total Eclipse of Your Heart" program aims to unite hundreds...
Man convicted of torturing, raping woman for 9 hours  
Man convicted of torturing, raping woman for 9 hours  

An Ellenwood man was convicted of holding a woman hostage, torturing her and then raping her for nine hours at a Henry County home, officials said.  Michael Hamilton, 56, was convicted of rape, aggravated sodomy, terroristic threats, false imprisonment and simple battery by a jury Thursday, Henry County District Attorney spokeswoman Megan...
DeKalb County: Major sewage spill reported in Brookhaven
DeKalb County: Major sewage spill reported in Brookhaven

A broken pipe created a major sewage spill in Brookhaven this week that polluted public waterways, according to DeKalb County’s government. County officials warned residents Friday to stay away from the waterway until further notice. The spill occurred near Nancy Creek and Mill Creek Road. The county reported the spill Thursday to the...
The last time the KKK tried to burn a cross on Stone Mountain...
The last time the KKK tried to burn a cross on Stone Mountain...

This week, the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was denied a permit request to burn a cross atop Stone Mountain. The event was to commemorate the KKK’s 1915 revival in the same spot. Despite the landmark’s history, the October ceremony would have been very unusual.  The late James R. Venable, a KKK imperial...
More Stories