North Charleston, S.C. -- Bianca Sancic has been in her share of life-threatening situations.
She's been a firefighter for the last decade, much of that time in North Charleston.
"A lot of people say these fires happen to other people -- they don't happen to me. I thought the same thing," Sancic said.
In 1999, she was working as a newspaper reporter in Texas. When her hairdryer sparked an outlet fire, it changed her life forever.
"I had written an article on smoke alarms," she said. "The fire marshall called and said, 'I loved it.'"
Then the fire marshall asked Sancic when she had last changed the batteries in her smoke alarm.
"I said, 'Well, Ray, it's been a long time.' He said, 'Go home and do it tonight.'"
Just days later, as Sancic was asleep on the couch, her home caught fire and burned to the ground.
"That smoke alarm saved my life," she said. "Had it not been for him saying 'Have you changed the battery in your smoke alarm?' I never would have made it."
Everything was gone.
"I was like OK, now what do I do? Where do I begin? How do I start?" she said.
So she started over. Sancic began training as a volunteer firefighter.
"I wanted to have control over the situation, and that was the way I found that I could have some sense of control," Sancic said. "That I would know what to do."
She fell in love with it, eventually quitting her reporting job to fight fires full time.
Sancic battled blazes on the ground for six years, then went to fire marshall school. Now she works on the education side as the North Charleston Fire Department's public information officer.
"I like the sense of action," she said. "The sense of being able to help somebody in the worst day of their life."
For Sancic, the worst day of her life turned out to be the most important. It took losing everything to find what she loves to do.