Veteran Harford firefighter and hazmat officer Ross receives national award

Clarence E. Ross, assistant chief of the Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team, has received the inaugural "Making a Difference Award" from the International Association of Fire Chiefs Hazardous Materials Committee.

The award was presented to Ross at the recent IAFC Hazmat Committee Conference in Baltimore.

"We are delighted that the IAFC Hazmat Committee recognized the dedication, selfless service and commitment to excellence of Assistant Chief Clarence Ross," Russell J. Strickland, director of the Harford County Department of Emergency Services, said in a press release. "Assistant Chief Ross is a long-time and valued member of the Harford County Hazardous Materials Team and goes above and beyond what is required in making a difference for the people of Harford County."

Ross was nominated for the "Making a Difference Award" by Larry A. Mabe, retired chief of the Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team. The nomination took note of Ross' 25 years of service with the Harford County Hazmat Team, which began on October 16, 1987, including 24 years as a chief officer with the team.

"Due to Clarence's efforts, Harford County became a model of enforcement of environmental leaks and spills," Mabe wrote in the nomination. "Clarence is a leader in his field and has been for more than 20 years. He is a respected member of the public safety community in Harford County and with the hazmat colleagues throughout the State of Maryland."

"Assistant Chief Ross has two traits that make him a favorite with team personnel: he trains the employees to do their job right and defends them in the effort to get the job done," Mabe added.

Ross retired from the Harford County Sheriff's Office in 2007, following a distinguished 34-year career during which he was a corporal in the Criminal Investigation Division assigned as the Sheriff's Office environmental enforcement officer. He also had been given the additional responsibility for homeland security inspections of chemical facilities.

The IAFC Hazmat Committee "Making a Difference "award was created to recognize those individuals whose dedication, commitment to excellence and service distinguished themselves in support of others in "Making a Difference" for their hazmat team and community they serve.

In addition to his 25 years of service with the Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team, Ross has been an active member with the Level Volunteer Fire Company for 46 years, including serving several terms as fire chief. In March 2009 he was inducted into the Harford-Cecil Firemen's Association "Hall of Fame." In September 1999, Ross received the EPA "Partnership Award" for Region III, for outstanding contributions in the field of chemical emergency preparedness.

Those attending the IAFC Hazmat Committee Conference in Baltimore when Ross was recognized nationally for his service included Mary Chance, director of administration for Harford County Government; Strickland; Michael Brunicke, chief of the Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team; several members of the team; and Mabe, the retired chief who nominated Ross.

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