When Bartow County Fire Chief Dwayne Jamison thinks about 5-year-old Kingston resident Noah Woods, he said the only word that comes to mind is “inspirational.”
Earlier this month, Woods did something that many firefighters go an entire career without doing — he engaged in a “truly life-saving intervention.”
On Feb. 9, the Bartow County Fire Department (BCFD) received an emergency call about a structure fire off West Howard Street.
“When our engine crews arrived, they found heavy smoke,” Jamison recounted at a special presentation Friday morning at the BCFD headquarters off Highway 20. “Upon further investigation, we learned that the fire started in the young man’s bedroom. When he woke up, the bedroom was full of smoke … the only way out was through a window.”
It’s a nightmare scenario that would’ve petrified many adults. But the spirited youngster quickly sprang into action, rescuing both his 2-year-old sister and pet dog before alerting a neighbor to the emergency.
“Even though Noah suffered from minor burns and smoke inhalation, he ran next door to wake up his uncle,” said Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor, “who was able to alert the other family members and help them evacuate the house to safety.”
Jamison said he has no doubts that Woods’ heroic display prevented tragedy. “Noah’s brave actions saved the lives of the family that day,” he said.
Woods was celebrated by the local fire department with an honorary badge, a firefighter helmet and a commemorative pin. While flanked by news cameras, the jubilant elementary schooler dined on an assortment of Valentine’s Day doughnuts. He was presented a cake featuring a cartoon Dalmatian taking the wheel of a fire engine. “Noah is a hometown hero!” the pastry declared.
Jamison also gave the courageous youngster some new clothes.
“We didn’t have a uniform that would fit Noah, but we were able to get him these pajamas that a hero would be proud to wear,” he said.
The bag was handed off to Woods by BCFD firefighter Skyler Gallegos — who just so happens to be the valiant youth’s cousin.
“This kid right here is amazing,” Gallegos said. “He’s so warm-hearted, if he gets to know you for five seconds he’ll come to you, give you a hug, love on you.”
He said it was an honor and a privilege to pay tribute to his own flesh and blood at Friday’s ceremony.
“What I’ve always heard is heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Well, he showed me this week age is a part of it, too,” he said. “Knowing that a 5-year-old can go out and save his whole family was just an eye opener to me. That shows me that what we do in our community and what we do as far as going out to schools and getting to talk to children, it plays a huge part in this.”
As part of the ceremony, Taylor named Woods an honorary firefighter and officially proclaimed Feb. 14 to be “Noah Woods Day” in the local community.
“It was just an amazing job that he did, he just acted on what I think he thought was right, his impulse,” Taylor said. “Which was exactly the perfect, right thing to do and we’re so proud of him here in Bartow County.”
Woods received a tour of the BCFD headquarters after the ceremony. Sitting side-by-side with his cousin, he then hopped aboard a fire engine and was subsequently treated to a few celebratory laps in the parking lot.
Woods was all waves and smiles as the engine made its rounds — he seemed especially excited to honk the horn.
Jamison said the accolades are still coming for the energetic 5-year-old. He said Woods should expect to receive a formal commendation from Gov. Brian Kemp shortly, while District 14 State Sen. Bruce Thompson is proposing a Senate resolution recognizing him for his quick thinking and bravery.
BCFD Capt. Derrick Evans said Woods’ valor is living proof of the importance of fire safety education.
“It inspires us as educators in our public safety as we go into the schools and we teach working smoke alarms and exit drills at home and fire safety, as a whole,” he said. “I think the Lord watched over all of us, but I’m thankful that his act of bravery he did that day models a lot of the home protection drills and safety things we teach in school.”