GREENBELT – A Prince George's County Assistant Fire Chief with 22 years of service was named Prince George's County American Legion Firefighter of the Year Monday night at an awards ceremony.
“I am very honored to receive the award,” Assistant Fire Chief Darren Ware said. “I was just doing what I was trained to do.”
On April 20, 2016, Ware was on Route 301 near Brandywine Road returning from the funeral of County Paramedic John Ulmschneider when he came across a vehicle on fire with a woman trapped inside.
“When I pulled up, I saw the car on fire with a woman still inside. I had to do something quickly,” Ware said.
As Ware reached the vehicle, retired Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells and another man also stopped to help Ware rescue the woman from the car.
“When I got to the car I noticed the doors were locked, so I hit on the window,” Ware said. “I told the woman to open the door, but realized that wasn't going to happen because she was experiencing a medical emergency. We had to break through the passenger’s side window so I could climb into the car. I unhooked her seat belt, picked her up and handed her out through the window to safety.”
Within minutes of removing the woman from the car, it became fully engulfed in flames.
“From experience, I know how fast vehicles can go up in flames, so time was of the essence,” he said
Fire units from Prince George's County arrived on the scene and were able to extinguish the fire within a few minutes. The woman was transported to a local hospital where she was treated and released.
“We need to recognize our first responders,” said William Milligan of the American Legion. “They risk their lives to save others. It is important that we thank them for what they do.”
Prince George’s County Fire Department Spokesperson Mark Brady agreed.
“What Assistant Chief Ware did was unbelievable,” he said. “He did not have his personal protective gear on, but was still able to rescue the woman.”
Ware will receive a Metal of Valor award from the Prince George's County Fire Department at the 40th Annual Prince George's County Public Safety Awards in Greenbelt on April 26, and will also be honored as the National American Legion Firefighter of the Year in Rio, Nev. at the Annual American Legion National Public Safety Awards Ceremony.