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Teen turns tragedy into Eagle Scout project
Focuses on fire safety after house burned
Nick Braza recalls his experience for visitors Saturday in the Forsyth Forsyth Fire Department safety trailer. - photo by Alyssa LaRenzie

Watching his home burn down was something Nick Braza didn’t imagine seeing in his lifetime.

Braza had lived just 17 years when the family’s Forsyth County house was destroyed by fire in February.

At the time, he had been contemplating what to do for his Eagle Scout project. He found his answer in the tragedy.

Braza, a rising Lambert High School senior, began working in March on a fire safety seminar for his church congregation, fellow Scouts and the community, which came to fruition with a three-hour event Saturday.

He aimed to offer a variety of home fire safety information, from preventative measures such as cleaning a chimney to emergency actions like how to react in a burning home.

“Since they know that this is something that happened to me, and something that I’m kind of passionate about,” Braza said, “I guess it gives them a reason to listen.”

He also recruited help from the Forsyth County Fire Department, which brought equipment for teaching and practicing a drill.

Braza was pleased with the response of those who came.

“They’ve really seemed interested,” he said. “Of course, they’re interested by the fire truck and the fire safety trailer, but it looks like they have a lot of questions and they’re willing and eager to get information.”

Braza recited the date of the fire at his home without hesitation: Feb. 4, 2013.

The three-story house in a subdivision off of Trammel Road was considered a “total loss” by the fire department, which responded at about 1 that morning.

It’s not known what caused the fire, but Braza said the family first noticed the smoke in the basement, where they’d been using the fireplace during a Super Bowl gathering that night.

“The fire alarms went off at about 1 in the morning, and we just got out and the house caught on fire,” he said. “From my point of view, I was just happy that we were all safe.”

The night of the fire, Braza’s troop Eagle Scout advancement coordinator, who is also a firefighter, came to the home to support the family through the process.

Scott Madsen said he later suggested to Braza that he use the experience for his project.

“This would be a great opportunity to take what happened to you and share it,” Madsen said. “Nobody wants to see their home burned down.”

Braza was receptive to the idea, said Madsen, who was pleased with how the 17-year-old’s project turned out.

“He’s put a lot of work into it,” he said, adding that the seminar is a good fit for Braza, who shines as a “natural leader.”

Braza became a Cub Scout at 8 and a Boy Scout at 12, joining Troop 425 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Brannon Road.

He always wanted to obtain the coveted Eagle ranking, like his uncles.

“I look up to them, and they both got their Eagle Scout, so that’s just been pushing me,” Braza said. “For my project, I am supposed to do something that will help benefit the community.”

He hoped those who came left with some knowledge or reminders that could someday prevent a fire at their homes.