Sgt. Jason Williams, who has been with Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services since 2006, was one of 18 public safety personnel given medallions. Recipients’ names were also added to the Governor’s Public Safety Awards’ monument located inside the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.
Williams made a decision the night of Dec. 5, 2010, that could have cost him his life, but ended up saving two others while fighting a chimney fire.
“He did what we’re supposed to do but its very difficult to do when your life is threatened to put yourself aside for others,” said Sgt. Alec Adams, one of two men Williams saved that night.
Tim Cavender, spokesman for Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services, said Adams and another firefighter made their way to the attic fire on Chestatee Court in Woodstock while Williams remained at the bottom of the stairs to pull the hose.
“Without Williams’ heroic actions, this incident would have surely led to further injury, if not the death of his two brother firefighters,” Cavender said.
Through the high heat and rapidly deteriorating conditions, Williams saw fire just outside the window and tried to notify the other two firefighters.
But he soon realized both of his hands and arms were on fire. He then saw a wall of fire coming from behind him and blocking the escape.
Despite agonizing pain, Williams made his way up the stairs to alert the crew to the danger. With no other way out, the three men crawled down two flights of stairs through floor-to-ceiling fire.
All three team members were burned, with Williams sustaining first, second and third degree burns.
Adams, who has been with county fire services for seven years, said his team member had two choices: leave and save himself or risk his life upstairs.
“It’s pretty incredible for him to do something like that,” Adams said. “It’s for my family, for my wife to have a husband, for my son to have a father. Without his doing that, that may not have been possible.”
Adams said Williams is deserving of the award.
“I owe him my life,” he said.
Chief Tim Prather, who attended the ceremony, said he was proud to see one of his employees honored.
“It’s scary sometimes to know how close we come to losing guys, but I’m proud that their guys’ training helped them through a situation that was very close to being bad,” Prather said. “These actions and working as a team got them out of there before they couldn’t get out.”
At the awards ceremony, Deal said he was honored to recognize brave law enforcement officers and emergency responders who risk their lives every day to make Georgia a safer place.
“Public safety is one of the most solemn obligations of state government, and I thank these heroes for their selfless commitment to Georgia citizens,” Deal said.
Beginning in 1998, the award serves 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.