PUBLIC SERVICE—These men and women were honored for their years of public service during the Public Service Awards, at Savoy Restaurant, April 5.

When there’s a fire blazing, most people are moving as far away as possible from the flames and the harm that it could bring.

Then there’s people like Steve Jasper, who does the exact opposite. He races to the scene, puts out the blaze and tries to save anyone who needs medical attention.

The firefighter of 30 years was among 17 local public service members honored at the 16th annual Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Public Service Awards, held April 5 at Savoy Restaurant, in the Strip District. The event was originated by Achieving Greatness, Inc.

HONOREE—Surrounded by her supporters, Loraine Cook, middle, received an award for her dedication to public service. (Photos by J.L. Martello)

“When I was younger, I always heard the sirens going off and I always wanted to be a firefighter, so I joined the (Penn Hills Volunteer Fire Department) and have been there ever since,” said Jasper, who is now Deputy Chief of the Penn Hills Lincoln Park Volunteer Fire Department. “I’m an adrenaline junkie, so it was just something I wanted to try out, and I loved it.”

Jasper, a Penn Hills High School graduate, also served four years in the Air Force, then with the Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh fire departments, while also serving for the Penn Hills Lincoln Park Volunteer Fire Department. Jasper said when people thank him for putting out a fire, or administering life-saving procedures, “It feels pretty good, but I take it as, I was just doing my job because that’s what I’m here to do.”

Bill Neal, the event’s host and sports columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier, began honoring those in public service after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He knew people in New York City at the time, and they told him the tragedy was even more than what television cameras could capture.

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