Lt. Shana Haughton makes fire safety a top priority for people of all ages

Also runs Alex's Heart Foundation
Posted at 9:29 AM, Aug 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 13:08:36-05

On a warm August afternoon, Lt. Shana Haughton is guiding a group of kids onto a fire boat docked at Fort McHenry.

Some of the kids are a little leery of it.

"It's moving!" one cries.

"Why is the floor shaking?" another yells.

Haughton gently leads the kids up the stairs, assuring them that the ground should be swaying and they are safe.

"Take one big step. You can do it!" she tells them.

Haughton oversees the Baltimore City Youth Fire and Life Safety camp. On this day, the kids were learning about how fire boats work.

The goal of the camp is to teach kids all about fire safety. The bonus for Haughton is if the campers are inspired to become a firefighter.

"I hope that I live long enough to see if the kids that I have touched have become firefighters," she said. "That makes me excited to see how that works out."

Haughton became a firefighter with the Baltimore City Fire Department 14 years ago, after deciding she wanted a job "in which an emergency was a real emergency."

The moment she responded to her first call, she knew this job was meant for her.

"Actually being out there and being part of the group and knowing what I had to do and how important my part was, I thought would fit with me."

She was recently promoted to lieutenant and does a lot of work with public education. Her colleagues say it's a natural fit for her, especially working with the children.

"We've dubbed her that motherly voice, that motherly person. That is Shana," said Kevin Williams, also a lieutenant with BCFD. "She really wants to help as many children as she can as quickly as she can. She'll pull resources from all over the department and the community to help that."

Haughton came to Baltimore from New York when her family moved to the area so her brother Alex could be treated for cardiomyopathy at Johns Hopkins. At the age of 22, Alex received a heart transplant.

"Typically for a heart transplant, they give five to seven years," Haughton said. "My brother lived 15. It was because of a lot of love and hard work."

Her family started Alex's Heart Foundation while he brother was still alive to help others going through the organ transplant process. Alex died four years ago but his spirit is alive through the work of the foundation.

"It's just another piece in the cog of helping people and reaching out to the community," she said.

It's a lot of work to juggle a fulltime job in a demanding field, run a non-profit and be a wife and mother. Haughton says what keeps her going is the desire to make a difference.

"To me, giving back is what fuels me. That's the part I love, that's the part I drive toward. It's worth it in the end, always."

To nominate someone for the Chick-fil-A Everyday Heroes award, click here.