Capt. Ashley Harmon named Firefighter of the Year
By Rebekah Martin
A significant impact on the community and dedication to duty are two criteria Opelika Exchange Club members look for when choosing the Opelika Firefighter of the Year. This year, Capt. Ashley Harmon was the public servant who best fit that bill.
Harmon, who is a 23-year veteran of the OFD, is known by his coworkers as the “go-to guy” when it comes to mechanical issues the fire department often faces and Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather said Harmon has been a vital part of the department since he was hired. “Ashley is kind of an all-around guy. He does an excellent job. He’s very dependable and you can take him at his word,” Prather said.
Harmon served as the incident commander for the abandoned West Point Stevens Mill fire in March 2013 and also played an important role during the Leshner Mill fire last November. Prather said Harmon’s good decisions greatly impacted the positive outcomes of both incidents.
Harmon said he could not have asked for a better place to work for more than two decades than the Opelika Fire Department, and being chosen as the Firefighter of the Year is an honor. “There are a lot of great people in this city,” Harmon said. “It’s been a really great place for me. It’s quite an honor because there are so many people at the fire department who go above and beyond. In my eyes, I think there are a lot of people who are more deserving,” Harmon said. When asked why his tenure at the OFD has spanned more than two decades, Harmon said it was about the people who make up the department. “My coworkers are a big part of what has kept me here so long,” Harmon said. “They make you who you are.”
Helping others in their time of need is why Harmon said he chose his profession. “It’s all about helping people. Someone who is having their worst day … you hope you can do something to make a difference in it,” Harmon said. That’s one thing about the fire department – we go to so many different types of calls and what one person might not think of as that big of a deal, it may be a big deal to someone else. So we try to help people out in whatever way we can.”
Harmon and his wife of 20 years, Dori, have two daughters, Tori, 18 and Maci, 15. The family is active in the Penton church of God in Lafayette.