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Harrison rescue personnel honored

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

They deal with life and death situations on a daily basis for little money and few rewards.

But on Friday night the Harrison County Bureau of Emergency Services gave credit where credit was due, when it honored the county's firefighters, medics, policemen and dispatchers at an awards banquet at Via Veneto in Bridgeport.

"They do a job day in and day out and they do it well," said Bureau Chief Fred Smart. "This is a chance for them to be recognized by their peers."

The Kevin Grant Hall Memorial Award, the most prestigious of the fire service awards, was presented to Steven M. Ashcraft of the Clarksburg Fire Department for his rescue of two residents trapped in a burning house.

Aschraft had been with the department only six months at the time of the incident.

"I appreciate the award but I was just doing my job," he said. "I took an oath to protect the city of Clarksburg and that's what I was doing."

Ashcraft was quick to give praise to the room full of his fellow associates.

"Everybody here does a fine job and we rely on each other," he said. "Many people don't realize the danger they put themselves in every day."

The banquet was dedicated to Gary L. Williams, the former assistant bureau chief who passed away in February.

Smart spoke of Williams' dedication to the job, even in the face of illness. The crowd stood in applause when Smart announced a service award would be named for Williams and would be given at next year's banquet.

Lt. Rodney Broadwater of the Sheriff's Department was one of the recipients of the Sheriff's Department Award of Merit for his actions in a family domestic violence call where shots were fired.

"All of these people are dedicated," he said. "They're asked to go out in all sorts of weather, and you never know what you're going to find and many times you're dealing with people at their worst."

The bureau dispatches 10 police departments, 20 fire departments and various specialty teams including a narcotics task force and a county dive and rescue team.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or jbiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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