The hum of side conversations filled the garage at the Sherwood Central Fire Station on Sunday afternoon.
Moments later, standing in silence, dozens bowed their heads in prayer before officials recalled their memories of Sherwood firefighter Ronald Jason Adams, who was fatally shot while responding to a medical call one year ago Sunday.
"As many of you know, Jason was a fire nut -- he lived and breathed anything and everything that had to do with the fire service," Sherwood Battalion Chief Jodie Hartman said.
Hartman was standing next to the rescue apparatus that Adams, a five-year veteran of the department, had spent months helping to outfit for the department in 2014. The vehicle now bears his name on a memorial plate affixed to its side.
At the end of the ceremony, Mayor Virginia Young announced Sunday was Lt. Jason Adams Day in Sherwood, presenting the honor to his former fiancee, Lt. Jeannie DeMeyere, who also serves in the city's fire department.
"This is just a fraction of the people who have reached out to me," she said, looking at the crowd of community members and firefighters.
Phylis Stroud, Adams' mother, said the dedications will allow her son's memory to live on forever.
"It's just a great honor," Stroud said. "And we just miss him so much."
The ceremony came one year after Adams was fatally shot while responding to a medical call as he was volunteering with the East Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department.
Adams had been called to a report of a man having a seizure at a home on Dortch Loop.
Mark Eugene Pruitt is accused of fatally shooting the firefighter after Adams entered the residence, according to media reports at the time.
Authorities charged Pruitt with manslaughter. He has been jailed since October after Pulaski County deputies found him in a "dangerous" mental state while talking about the shooting and about other people, according to previous reports.
State doctors found that Pruitt is not mentally ill, and a Pulaski County circuit court judge has ruled him competent to stand trial.
His trial is set to start April 11.
Adams joined the Sherwood Fire Department as an entry-level firefighter before being promoted to lieutenant in spring 2015.
Before starting his firefighting career, Adams had battled cancer twice as a teenager, Stroud said. He was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma when he was 15, she said.
She said it's amazing that her son could overcome cancer twice and grow up to have a successful career as a firefighter.
Adams was always on the search to learn more about the fire service, and seemed to work toward obtaining all the certifications offered by the Arkansas Fire Training Academy, Hartman said. Adams even took classes several times, just to make sure he didn't miss anything, he said.
"His willingness to teach and perfect [a] particular skill was second to none," Hartman told the crowd.
Friends described Adams as a quirky person, somebody who was detail oriented, whether it came to his tools or the fire equipment.
And, Hartman said, he was a man of routine, who was often in bed by early in the evening, who wanted to be back at the station in time to catch the AMC show The Walking Dead, and who insisted that a firetruck be outside to be checked at a particular time.
"By 7:15 a.m., rain or shine, the truck had to be outside," Hartman said, mentioning that Adams would sometimes water down the firetruck even in the rain.
Adams was even known to help install wiring on fire department vehicles on his days off.
It showed a dedication and professionalism to the fire service, Hartman said, something he hopes will live on through the plate now seen on the rescue vehicle.
"It will allow us to tell a story about him each time he is asked about," Hartman said. "Through that story, we will be able to carry out his commitment of sharing knowledge."
Hopefully, he said, "creating the next fire nut."
Metro on 01/23/2017
Print Headline: Sherwood honors slain firefighter; Nameplate affixed to truck on anniversary of shooting