Pelham honors two fire rescuers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Charlene Shimel is glad to know that even when the schedule says so, Ken Smith, a firefighter with the Pelham fire department, is never off duty.

Smith, along with business owner Louis Federico was honored at a Pelham city council meeting Monday night. Ken Marlow, another man who assisted in getting Shimel out of her burning trailer on Jan. 31, was not able to be present.

Fire chief Gary Waters said with Smith&8217;s personality this honor would be difficult to accept.

&8220;Firefighters hate the limelight,&8221; Waters said. &8220;If he looks visibly uncomfortable its because in his mind he was just doing his job.&8221;

To Shimel what these men did was more than a job or what any person would do &045;&045;

it was a miracle.

&8220;Its still hard to accept the fact that everything, everything is gone,&8221; Shimel said with tears streaming down her face. &8220;No, everything is not gone. I&8217;m still living.&8221;

Smith was running errands in Pelham when he saw a boil of smoke rising from over a trailer park. He said most times this would have been a pile of trash or leaves set on fire. It became clear a trailer was on fire and someone was inside.

Smith went inside the trailer with no protective gear and checked for more people. Marlow and Federico called 911 and attended to Shimel, but Federico gives all recognition to Smith.

&8220;This gentleman [Smith] deserves all the credit for it,&8221; Federico said. &8220;Its important that he is recognized for what he is asked to do every day.&8221;

Smith has spent 17 years with the Pelham department.

&8220;I guess in a round about way we hope to save someone at some time but it rarely happens,&8221; Smith said. &8220;But this is what I&8217;ve done for 22 years now and I love it.&8221;

Smith is the state&8217;s first Medal of Honor recipient