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Laurel fire chief Hull earns firefighter of the year honor

County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor, left, presented a citation to Laurel Volunteer Fire Department Chief Duane Hull, center, in October for his actions in assisting Prince George's County FIre Capt. Donald Fletcher, right.
County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor, left, presented a citation to Laurel Volunteer Fire Department Chief Duane Hull, center, in October for his actions in assisting Prince George's County FIre Capt. Donald Fletcher, right.(Prince George's County FIre/EMS)

Laurel Volunteer Fire Department Chief Duane Hull and Prince George's County Acting Assistant Fire Chief Sayshan Conver-White have both been named Firefighter/EMT of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign War Post 7757 in Largo and Kettering.

Hull was among firefighters called to the 9400 block of Riverbrink Court in Laurel after reports of a town home fire, Prince George's Fire/EMS spokesman Mark Brady said. The fire crews quickly began to extinguish the flames that engulfed the first and second floors.

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Heading up the stairs, Hull said he noticed that the steps were partially burned away, moments before he rescued firefighter Donald Fletcher.

"I got to the top of the steps and Captain Fletcher and other firefighters were bringing the hose up," Hull said. "When [Fletcher] got to the top, part of the steps gave way. He grabbed the railing and was able to hold himself up."

Hull said Fletcher could not call for assistance using his radio, so he yelled Hull's name for help. Hull quickly responded, pulling Fletcher out of a hole. Fletcher sustained minor burn injuries to his hands, Hull said.

Hull was presented an Emergency Services award in October by Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor and Fletcher at the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department. The Laurel fire chief said he was honored to receive both awards.

"I honestly wasn't expecting it," Hull said. "Thankfully, incidents where other firefighters need help are few and far between. Normally, it's about helping regular civilians. I'm glad that it worked out the way it did."

Conver-White said she also felt humbled to receive the award.

"I think that it identifies one person, but to be honest, I'm a part of a huge team of dedicated professionals who have put this program together," Conver-White said. "You can't change a safety culture with the actions of just one person. I have been blessed to be a part of a time of both subordinates and supervisors who have supported the cause of advancing firefighter safety and positively impacting safety culture in our department."

Conver-White was named National Safety Officer of the Year for the Fire Department Safety Officers Association in 2015.

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She is chairwoman of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments Safety and Health Committee as well as co-chair of the Maryland Emergency Services Life Safety Task Force.

Her main objective: firefighter health and safety initiatives.

"We're going to serve our community to the best of our ability, but we have a dedicated effort to getting our providers home safely to their families while doing that," she said.

Hull and Conver-White will receive their awards at a ceremony March 5 at the Kettering Community Association in Upper Marlboro.

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