Going above and beyond lands firefighter of the year honor

Hannah Keller/Contributing Writer Published December 22, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Nick Hillemann

Randy Harmon has been with the Bryant Fire Department for 4 1/2 years. While his fellow firefighters weren’t celebrating a milestone anniversary of Harmon’s tenure at the department Christmas party Dec. 12, they were celebrating his contributions to the department. Harmon was named Bryant Firefighter of the Year for 2013.

Randy Harmon said he “had no idea” why his peers would vote him the Bryant Firefighter of the Year for 2013. But for his co-workers, the choice was simple.

“He’s just one of those guys that goes above and beyond,” said Tate Hamm, who has worked with Harmon since their training to become firefighters. “He’s a very caring guy. He’s always there to help and is one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever known. He always has a smile on his face.”

Harmon, who has been with the Bryant Fire Department for 4 1/2 years, received the recognition Dec. 12 at the department’s Christmas party.

“Everyone in the whole department votes on who they think is doing the best job for the department,” Harmon said. “That it comes from my co-workers makes it all worthwhile.

“Having the recognition is nice, but it doesn’t compare to the daily rewards of doing this job. I’m always telling people the rewards of doing my job come from doing my job, and that’s enough in itself.”

A Benton native, Harmon stayed close to his roots. After graduating from Harmony Grove High School, he was the manager of a local grocery store and later worked in a factory. However, he hungered for something more.

“There are a lot of good factory jobs here,” he said. “I did factory work for years, but I wanted to do something more with my life. I wanted to help others.”

He first tried to get hired by the Hot Springs Fire Department but wasn’t accepted at the time. Later, he tried out for both the Benton and Bryant fire departments.

“Bryant was the one that made the call,” Harmon said.

In order to be considered for a position at the department, Harmon had to complete a set of tests, beginning with a written exam. Once an applicant passes the written test, he said, he moves on to the physical agility portion of the testing.

“You go through a set of obstacle courses and practice skills used in firefighter service — like rolling hoses, climbing ladders and walls, and dragging hoses. From there, an interview panel is formed and chooses from those that passed both tests,” he said.

Along with the reward of serving the public, Harmon said, he has also formed lasting bonds with his fellow firefighters.

“The bond you build with these guys is untouchable,” he said. “I have two brothers and two sisters, and my relationship with the guys here is just as strong as the relationship I have with my siblings. When you spend 24 hours a day every third day with these guys, you just build an amazing bond.”

Hamm spoke of the brotherhood between him and Harmon.

“We were at the academy together,” Hamm said. “He’s a pretty competitive guy, and so am I, so we’ve kept a little friendly competition between us on the job.”

For Harmon, the biggest thrill from his job is simply working with the public, whether it’s being the first on the scene to provide comfort and care while more help arrives, or seeing the excitement on the faces of students touring the department.

“Being in my line of work and having two boys that look up to me is a big reward, too,” Harmon added. “It’s good that they can see I’m working not just for money to provide for my family, but I’m helping people in the process.”

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