For Hometown News
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- The St. Lucie County Fire District awarded Tommy Barber and Susan Laney the Citizen Hero Award for their actions in saving a woman from a recent apartment fire.
Mr. Barber and Ms. Laney were returning to Ms. Laney's apartment at 707 North 7th Street in Fort Pierce the evening of Sept.7. When they arrived on the second floor they both smelled smoke. Mr. Barber determined it was coming from the apartment across the hall from Ms. Laney's. He broke in and assisted the resident, who uses a mobility scooter, down the hall to a safer location.
He and Ms. Laney then took the fire extinguisher and while he held it, he instructed Ms. Laney on how to attack the fire at the base of the fire with a spraying motion.
This despite the fact that Mr. Barber is blind.
"It is always great to know that there are citizens in our community that are willing to take that risk for the sake of others," said Fire Chief Ron Parrish. "It was a blessing that Tommy and Susan were in the right place at the right time, they made a difference."
"I could not have done it without Susan's help," said Mr. Barber.
Mr. Barber has some experience in the fire service. In the 1980s, before he became blind, he went through the Fire Academy and served as a SLCFD firefighter for a year.
"Tommy and Susan showed tremendous bravery and courage, especially with him being blind," said Lt. Tommy Neiman, who was one of the firefighters responding to the fire, and had nominated Barber and Laney for the Citizen Hero Award.
The resident Mr. Barber and Ms. Laney saved was taken to a local hospital and recovered. Both Mr. Barber and Mr. Neiman agreed that 3-5 minutes would have made the difference in the outcome.
"It is amazing that 25-30 years after his firefighting experience, Mr. Barber still remembered his basic training and saved lives," said Commissioner Ed Becht, chairman of the Fire Board.
Both Mr. Barber and Ms. Laney were awarded the Citizen Hero Award at the November Fire Board Meeting.