Friday, January 29, 2016

TOP STORY >> Young firefighter remembered

Leader staff writer

Hundreds of first responders gathered Thursday to lay to rest one of their own, 29-year-old Lt. Ronald Jason Adams, whom co-workers affectionately called their “quirky little man.”

The McArthur Church parking lot in Jacksonville was packed with fire trucks, police cars and other emergency response vehicles that were part of the processional in his honor.

Adams was shot and killed Jan. 22, soon after arriving at 211 Dortch Loop in North Little Rock in response to a medical call about someone having a seizure.

He was there as a member of the East Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department, but also worked for the Sherwood and Scott fire departments.

The resident, 47-year-old Mark Eugene Pruitt, has been charged with manslaughter, a felony. His plea and arraignment is 9 a.m. Feb. 23 at Pulaski County District Court.

Phil Flynn of the Sherwood Fire Department shared Adams’ nickname during the funeral. Bagpipes were played and six, including the church’s pastor, spoke.

Flynn explained how the nickname was proof Adams had been accepted by his peers. “It means that you have earned their respect, and your crew will not only do battle with you, but for you, should they be called upon to do so.”

He continued, “Quirky, you say? Well, we all agreed it was the best word that fit him. Quirky by definition: characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits.”

Flynn said, “Jason’s smile and quick wit, (his) one-liners could invoke uncontrollable laughter from his crew after a particularly difficult emergency response or shift.” Flynn noted that the firefighters who worked with Adams deemed the young man’s antics “Jasonism.”

He also said, “Jason, you were a giant in the way that you loved. If you were his friend, he loved you and you knew it. He delighted in doing things for you, whether it was on duty, with his crew, or off duty. Truly, acts of service must have been one of Jason’s love languages.”

Flynn spoke of how, when asked to do something, Adams would reply, “No problem, boss” to let the people who asked know he trusted and respected them.

He said Adams talked often about the family and friends he loved. Flynn recalled how Adams’ eyes lit up when speaking about his wife.

The couple lived on a farm, raised chickens and had many animals, including two rescue dogs and a hamster a co-worker had given Adams. The firefighter named the hamster “Annie” because she was an orphan — little orphan Annie, Flynn shared.

Flynn also called Adams a “quiet servant” who wouldn’t have wanted all the fuss of his funeral that was full of ceremony.

East Pulaski Fire Chief Steven Strawn recalled how Adams would turn the lights on in every truck, making sure everything worked, and walk around with a huge smile on his face. “I don’t know if he ever grew out of that the 10 years he was with us.”

The chief also said Adams wanted all of the firefighters to be the best they could be. He would set up different scenarios for them to practice with, teaching as they ran through them.

Jodie Hartman with the Sherwood Fire Department told those gathered at the funeral how Adams had always carried a pocketful of stickers. He enjoyed giving kids the stickers, toy trucks and plastic helmets, Hartman explained.

He added that the fallen firefighter always had a project going, and, for him, “close enough would never cut it.” Adams always wanted to improve everything, Hartman said.

Sherwood Fire Chief David Teague also spoke. He said Adams loved helping people and that he had survived cancer twice.

The young man was also a member of the Arkansas Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One, an adjunct instructor for the Arkansas Fire Academy and a trustee of the Sherwood Firefighters Association Local 2756, Teague noted.

The chief remembered how he wanted to hire Adams before the young man attended the academy, but had to wait eight weeks because Adams was so eager to learn.

Teague then told Adams’ relatives that their loved one’s firefighter family was there to help God get them through this “raging storm” of grief.