SPANISH FORT – When Demorrist Shaw saw flames coming from his neighbor’s home in November, the Spanish Fort teen kicked in a door, entered the burning building and rescued its trapped 83-year-old occupant.
On Jan. 7, the Spanish Fort Volunteer Fire Department and City Council recognized the 18-year-old for his action, presenting Shaw with a Civilian Medal of Honor and certificate.
Fire Chief Roger Few said Shaw’s action saved the life of 83-year-old Billie Ray Edwards on Nov. 29, 2019.
“He had determined that the neighbor was still trapped in the house,” Few said in making the presentation. “He attempted to make a couple of entries at different locations. Ultimately, he kicked in the back door, located the neighbor and removed him to safety. Certainly, he was instrumental in saving this gentleman’s life, 83 years old, he is with us today as a result of that. So, we want to recognize Mr. Shaw for his bravery and his heroic actions on that night.”
Shaw said he just did what he felt he had to do.
I saw the fire coming. I saw it was coming from his house,” Shaw said. “I knocked on the door and he wasn’t responding. So, I knew then that I had to jump into action then. It wasn’t really nothing planned. I can’t tell you what I did, I just did it.”
Once inside the house, Shaw could not see anything in the smoke and flames. “You couldn’t see nothing at all,” Shaw said. “I just followed the voice.”
Shaw said he had known Edwards since he was a child and had sometimes done odd jobs for him. He said he was honored by the medal but had not sought any recognition for the deed.
“It was all love. I didn’t do it for no reward or nothing. That’s why I said I’m grateful for it, but I didn’t do it for rewards,” Shaw said. “I ain’t never had nothing happen like this.”
Once Shaw found Edwards and took him out of the burning house, he left after making sure that the older man was safe. When firefighters arrived about six minutes after the fire was reported, they found Edwards outside his burning home.
“It was later that we found out that one of the neighbors had been instrumental in saving the gentleman’s life,” Few said.
Assistant Fire Chief John Shoemaker, the first department member on the scene that night, pointed out that while firefighters wear heavy protective clothing when entering buildings, Shaw went into the burning house wearing a T-shirt and sneakers. “It was pretty remarkable,” he said.
Mayor Mike McMillan also praised Shaw’s actions.
“On behalf of the City Council and all of the citizens of the city of Spanish Fort, thank you sir,” McMillan told Shaw. “Thank you for what you did, what you accomplished. You went above and beyond, and we truly appreciate your efforts.”