A Cherokee County firefighter was recognized on Monday by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal for an act of heroism during the Governor’s Public Safety Awards ceremony in Forsyth.
Sgt. Jason Williams, who has been with Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services since 2006, was given a medallion from the governor for an incident that occurred on Chestatee Court in Woodstock.
Sgt. Williams was on the initial team responding to a reported chimney fire. Upon arrival, the three-man team entered the residence where they ascended the stairs to the upper floor. Two members of the team made their way into the attic to put out the fire there while Williams stayed at the bottom of the stairs to pull the hose for the others.
As he waited, Williams began to feel high heat and rapidly deteriorating conditions, and observed fire just outside the window where he was positioned. Williams attempted to make contact with the crew at the top of the stairs, but soon realized both of his hands and his arms were burning.
As he turned to look back, Williams saw a wall of fire coming from behind him, blocking the escape. His immediate thought was to get out, but, despite agonizing pain, Williams instead turned and made his way up the stairs to get his crew. Williams reached the other two firefighters at the top of the stairs and alerted them to the danger.
With no other way out, the crew was forced to crawl down two flights of stairs through the fire that raged from floor to ceiling. The hose line they were on burned through and gave them no protection.
All three team members were burned, with Williams sustaining the worst injuries in the form of first, second and third degree burns. Without Williams’ heroic actions, this incident would have surely led to further injury, if not the death of his two brother firefighters.
“I am honored to recognize our brave law enforcement officers and emergency responders who risk their lives every day to make our state a safer place," Deal stated. "Public safety is one of the most solemn obligations of state government, and I thank these heroes for their selfless commitment to Georgia citizens.”
The annual Governor’s Public Safety Awards program began in 1998 to recognize public safety officers who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect citizens and make significant contributions to the public safety profession at large.
The ceremony recognized 18 public safety professionals for acts of heroism and eight for contributions to their profession. The recipients were given medallions and their names were added to the Governor’s Public Safety Awards’ monument located inside the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.