UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s Assistant Fire Chief Darren Ware and retired Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells will be featured in the “Everyday Champions” 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 Dec. 8.
The Hall of Champions includes plaques of all the winners of every NASCAR series. In 2014, it added the “Everyday Heroes” exhibit to honor a first responder or group of first responders involved in a “rescue-type situation or life-saving type situation,” said Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
These firefighters are being recognized for a rescue they made on April 20, 2016.
During Ware’s drive home after his shift that day, he came across a vehicle fire with an unresponsive driver trapped inside the locked car.
“When you encounter a situation like that, there are thousands of things that can be running through your mind,” Ware said. “The main thing that was running through my mind was we have a person in need of assistance. At that point it would be considered dire assistance, because you have a fire that’s growing larger, which is further endangering a situation. My first thought was we need to get her out of this vehicle as fast as we can.”
While Ware called for resources and tried unsuccessfully to access the vehicle to remove the passenger, Wells also happened to drive by the area.
As the two used a bystander’s construction tool to attempt to get into the car, the passenger’s foot hit the gas pedal. The car drove down a slope and off the shoulder of the road, making the driver’s door inaccessible.
With the bystander’s assistance, Wells and Ware were able to access the passenger’s side door to rescue the driver.
They made the rescue without the assistance of any firefighting equipment.
“That just hindered the rescue a little bit,” Ware said.
The exhibit will include a Prince George’s County Fire Department/Emergency Medical Services uniform, portraits of Ware and Wells, a panel with short biographies, a news story and images. The display will remain for a year. Afterward, the portraits and a description of the rescue will be placed on the wall permanently.
“As I receive this award, I want to receive it on my own behalf, but I also want to receive it on the behalf of firefighters throughout the country,” Ware said. “What I did is what firefighters throughout the country are trained to do and we are all more than willing to do our job when called upon to do it. Once you save a life you have done your job.”
Ware has become the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s most highly decorated member for a single act of heroism. His awards include the Gold Medal of Valor, 2017 National Firefighter of the Year and Career Firefighter of the Year.
Ware and Wells will be the first Marylanders to be featured in the exhibit.
“The NASCAR family, the industry and the fans, are so appreciative of our military and first responders that it just really is an emotional, a positively emotional experience to be able to honor somebody that we all revere,” Kelley said. “It’s one of our highlights of the year to see them honored and to meet them.”