An Horry County mail carrier was named the 2012 Hero of the Year by the National Rural Letter Carrier Association (NRLCA) this month after helping put out a grass fire that was spreading across a customer’s property. Ronald Floyd of Loris– a full-time Postal employee for 21 years– received the award August 14.
Floyd was on his route in February 2011 when he spotted smoke behind a house belonging to Margaret Shipley. Shipley was not home at the time. As Floyd was trying to determine the cause of the smoke, Shipley pulled up in her own car. Floyd told her to call 911 while he grabbed a hose to stop the fire which had spread from a neighbor’s backyard.
However, he had some trouble. “I tried to use the water hose, but it wasn’t getting along too good,” he told South Carolina Radio Network, “I don’t remember if it got burned or if dogs had chewed it in two…it was a year or so ago and I don’t really remember, to tell the truth.”
Instead, Floyd said he was able to put out some small flames that were approaching the house. “It was like a grassfire. A lot of places I just kind of stomped out and used some water I was able to get close by.”
After securing the house, Floyd said he then turned his attention to an old horse barn on the property, dousing some hot spots as the rest of the fire burned away from the property towards nearby woods.
Once firefighters arrived, Floyd stayed on the scene to make sure Shipley was okay before continuing on his route. After finishing, he returned to check on the house and found the fire had flared up again. “I just got some water in a bucket and just went around and tried to control some of it. It wasn’t any real danger of being bad, but it was smoldering.”
After waiting for firefighters to arrive a second time, Floyd said he checked to make sure Mrs. Shipley was okay before he returned home and “forgot about it, to be honest.”
But Shipley wrote a letter to Floyd’s postmaster. Word eventually reached higher-ups in the Postal Service, who publicized his actions in a NRLCA magazine and amongst local media outlets. The NRLCA honored him again in a Buffalo, New York ceremony two weeks ago— awarding him its 2012 Hero of the Year award. Floyd is the first South Carolinian to ever receive the honor.
The Loris carrier said he was stunned, “It was an honor, but I just did what I felt like was needed to help somebody out. I certainly didn’t do it for any kind of award or anything.”
Floyd says he does not think of himself as a hero. In fact, he nearly declined our interview request. “Sometimes I feel like that God puts us in certain situations to help other people in their time of need. I just felt like that was a time somebody needed some help.”
He said his superiors only know about the February 2011 fire because of Mrs. Shipley’s letter. He adds he also believes there are thousands of other similar heroics by other employees that were done quietly with no recognition.