Perry Twp. firefighter honored for service

LISBON – A Perry Township firefighter was honored for leading the department’s response to two serious incidents that occurred last year – a ruptured natural gas line and a fire in an apartment complex.

For his efforts, Captain Brandon Smith received the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency’s Volunteer of the Year for 2013. He also received a certificate of recognition from the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

The first incident occurred in June when an excavation crew installing a sewer line along Depot Road in Perry Township accidentally punctured a Columbia Gas line at 8:15 a.m. Smith arrived on the scene and immediately decided to evacuate nearby residents.

The line breach occurred about 600 feet from the Blossom Nursing Home, but township officials decided not to evacuate the residents since the facility was upwind of the rupture. As a precaution, Smith kept some fire trucks at the nursing home.

Newbold said Smith’s decision protected the lives of residents should the situation have worsened. As it happened, the line was repaired without incident, and Depot Road was reopened by 1:30 p.m.

“Your split-decision leadership led to a one-mile radius evacuation, traffic and access control of all residents surrounding the 6-inch ruptured gas pipeline, with no time to spare,” Newbold said. “Because of your ability to think on your feet, zero lives were lost from an incident that affected over 100 personnel …”

On Nov. 13, Smith directed the response to a fire at a 12-unit apartment complex. The township evacuated an elderly couple from the first floor of the three-story complex, while Salem firefighters used their ladder truck to rescue six people from the third floor and helped two other residents get out of their second-floor apartments.

“You quickly established yourself as the incident commander and coordinated the deployment of multiple agencies to over three fire departments …,” Newbold said of Smith.

Newbold noted Smith does all of this while also working as a full-time police officer for the city of Salem.