SAR member Jim Gaskins presents Trooper Shorter with an award.
The Sons of the American Revolution-Jacksonville Chapter recently honored Trooper Dennis Shorter for his efforts to locate an out-of-control woods fire and to make sure nearby residents were out of harm’s way.
On Oct. 30, 2010, at approximately 2 a.m., while patrolling in St. Johns County, Fla. Shorter stopped at the Chevron gas station on State Road 207 and Interstate-95. As Shorter exited his vehicle, a motorist told him that heavy smoke was coming from the area of Mason Elementary School, approximately a half-mile east of their location.
Shorter left the gas station and drove to the entrance of the school. He did not observe a fire but did notice thick smoke in the area. He drove around the school and then continued to patrol east on State Road 207, attempting to track down the source of the smoke. Shorter noticed a remote driveway approximately one mile east of the school entrance and decided to drive down the driveway to continue his search. He discovered a large fire burning in a wooded area. The fire had climbed the pine trees, was burning upward as high as 20 feet, and was threatening a home in the vicinity.
Shorter called the Florida Highway Patrol Communications Center to notify the fire department about the location of the fire and immediately checked the home for occupants. He attempted to wake up anyone in the home by knocking on the door and calling out but did not get a response. Shorter used his siren and blue flashing lights and awoke the two residents who were sleeping inside the home. When the two occupants came to the front door, they were surprised to see an out-of-control blaze was close to their home. They were grateful that Shorter not only located the fire but also woke them up. The fire department arrived shortly thereafter and extinguished the fire saving the home from burning.
If Shorter had not taken the extra step to locate the source of the smoke and quickly get all of the occupants out of the home, the home and its residents may have been in grave danger.