July 8, 2009 Edition

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WRFD receives honors

Walnut Ridge Fire Chief Alan Haskins (from left), firefighter and paramedic Jeremy Davis and Captain Wes Lillard were recently honored with the Firefighter of the Year Award by the Arkansas State Firefighters Association.

The Walnut Ridge Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary won the award for traditional scrapbook. Accepting the honor were (from left): Missy Lillard, Andrea Jones, Brandi Owens, Baylee Haskins and Paula Haskins.
Gretchen Hunt

The Walnut Ridge Fire Department received two awards during the annual Arkansas State Firefighters and Fire Chiefs Convention on June 27 in Hot Springs.

Three Walnut Ridge Firemen were awarded the Firefighter of the Year Award, and the Ladies Auxiliary received an honor for its scrapbook.

Chief Alan Haskins, Captain Wes Lillard and firefighter and paramedic Jeremy Davis received the Firefighter of the Year Award.

They were selected for the honor by a committee made up of members of the association and were nominated for the award by the Three Rivers Firefighters Association members.

Haskins said some of their fellow firefighters at the WRFD had originally nominated them for the honor without them even knowing.

"We didn't expect it," he said. "We were really honored, especially to receive the award from our peers."

The three were honored for their actions while responding to a call in June of 2008. They were advised that the Walnut Ridge Police Department needed help locating an accident in a rural part of the city.

Lillard and Davis responded in Rescue 1, and Haskins responded in his command unit. Rescue 1 met up with the police officer on Country Club Road. The officer advised he had not yet found the vehicle but could hear a very large gas leak.

Rescue 1 proceeded down the road and found the accident. The vehicle had left the roadway, traveled through a field and crashed through an eight-foot chain link fence and into a cross-country pipeline pumping station. The vehicle had broken a large diameter gas pipeline and caused a gas leak.

By this time Chief Haskins arrived on scene and assisted Lillard and Davis.

The information submitted with the nomination tells the story: "These three firefighters did exactly what they were trained to do, laying everything on the line to make a rapid extrication with natural gas flowing from the ground so loud it could make you deaf. In the end, the incident worked out fine with no loss of life, civilian or firefighter. These firefighters went above and beyond the call of duty to save an accident victim from a horrible fate."

Haskins said it is a big honor for the WRFD to receive this award.

"The honor was for all departments throughout the state, and several were nominated," he said.

In January of this year, the three were also awarded the "Joe Coker Achievement Award" for this heroic act from the Three Rivers Firefighters Association.

During the convention the WRFD Ladies Auxiliary also received a statewide award. Auxiliaries had the option of entering the scrapbooking competition, and an award was given in two categories, traditional and digital. 

"We participated in the traditional, and we won," Andrea Jones said. She accepted the honor, along with Paula and Baylee Haskins, Missy Lillard and Brandi Owens.

"With the ladies also winning for their scrapbook, we brought home two statewide honors," Chief Haskins said. "The fire department in Walnut Ridge did really good to bring home two honors for the whole state."

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