MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale is proud to announce that Whelen Engineering has selected Assistant Fire Chief Darren O. Ware and Retired Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone N. Wells as “Everyday Champions.” The two, as well as the entire Fire/EMS Department, will be honored with a exhibit in the Whelen Hall of Champions at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The exhibit will be unveiled during a ceremony on Friday, December 8, 2017. Both honorees and Fire Chief Barksdale will attend.
For Chief Ware, Wednesday April 20, 2016, was challenging from the onset, as the Department was conducting funeral services for a member killed in the line of duty. Additionally, he was tasked with coordinating mutual aid resources and ensuring that personnel who do not work in our system or typically work together could do so safely and efficiently. Finally, upon concluding his shift and heading home, Chief Ware noticed smoke on the road ahead of him and suspected it was likely a vehicle fire.
Whelen's Hall of Champions features a plaque of every winner of every single NASCAR series since its inception. Additionally, the Hall houses various items of memorabilia and several trophies.
The "Everyday Champions" portion will showcase a Prince George’s County, Maryland, Fire Department/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) uniform, portraits of Ware and Wells, a panel with short biographies, and the news story and other related news images. The display will be up for one full year, after which the portraits and a brief description of their act of heroism will be placed permanently on the wall.
As he neared the incident, Chief Ware’s suspicion of a vehicle fire was confirmed. He was surprised, however, to discover an adult female driver still inside. After contacting Public Safety Communications for resources, he attempted to remove the victim from the vehicle. His efforts were unsuccessful, as all four doors were locked. The woman was unresponsive to his instruction to open the door. With the fire beneath the vehicle was growing larger and progressing into the free burning phase, Chief Ware realized the increasing urgency of the situation. He hurriedly returned to his vehicle, surveying the immediate area and hoping to find an object suitable to force entry into the SUV. Things were happening quickly, but to Chief Ware it seemed like an eternity in the face of the life-threatening situation confronting the victim.
Retired Fire/EMS Department Deputy Fire Chief Wells, also was travelling in the area, spied the incident and stopped to assist. A construction tool belonging to an unidentified bystander was used in a second attempt to access the SUV. Forcible entry was in progress when the victim inadvertently stepped on the gas pedal, driving the vehicle down the slope and off the shoulder of the road. The fire was now at an awkward angle with extension into the engine compartment, posing greater peril to an already stressful situation. The SUV’s new position had rendered the driver’s side inaccessible. It was imperative to affect this rescue immediately or prepare for a tragic outcome. Chief Ware and Deputy Chief Wells, with the bystander’s help, managed to get down the slope and access the passenger side of the vehicle.
The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department and Whelen Engineering are just two organizations to commend Chief Ware’s heroism. He was recently named the American Legion’s “2017 National Firefighter of the Year”. George Wehrli, Chairman of the American Legion National Law and Order Committee, stated, “To maintain law and order” is one of the major objectives included in the American Legion’s Preamble to its Constitution. As a National winner, you personify the meaning of America’s Bravest. I wish you continued success in your career and look forward to meeting you at the National Convention.”
As a result of Chiefs Ware’s heroism, he has become the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department most highly decorated member for a single act of heroism, his accolades include:
Gold Medal of Valor, The Prince George’s County 40th Annual Public Safety Valor Awards
Monthly Emergency Service Award, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department
2017 National Firefighter of the Year, The American Legion
Central Region Firefighter of the Year, The American Legion
Prince George’s County Career Firefighter of the Year, Prince George's County Council
The American Legion, Department of Maryland, Inc.
Southern Maryland District Career Firefighter of the Year, Southern Maryland District Council The American Legion, Department of Maryland, Inc.
Outstanding Firefighter of the Year, Veterans of Foreign Ward, Post #7757
Career Firefighter of the Year, Knights of Columbus Sacred Heart Council No. 2577
Firehouse Magazine Heroism Award, Firehouse Magazine
Public Recognition as a “Hometown Hero”
The Washington Nationals Baseball Team
The Bowie Baysox Baseball Team
Congratulations, Assistant Fire Chief Ware and Retired Deputy Fire Chief Wells! Your actions reflect well on you personally and professionally and exemplify the excellent caliber of service we strive to provide to the residents of Prince George’s County.