SYKESVILLE -- Jennifer L. Harman got an early birthday present Monday when she was selected the Maryland State Firemen's Association Fire Prevention Queen for 1992 in Ocean City.
Harman, who turns 18 today, competed as the 1991 Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Prevention Queen and the 1992 Maryland Fire Chief's Association Fire Prevention Queen.
In Monday's contest, she vied with 10 other girls during the association's 100th anniversary convention.
"We had to make a presentation on fire prevention to three judges, who asked us questions about ourselves. Then later, we did a formal presentation where we were asked a question about fire prevention," Harman said.
"I talked about fire prevention for the handicapped," she said. "It's a topic that many of the girls don't normally deal with. Most of them discuss fire prevention for children."
Almost immediately, Harman was plunged into her new reign. During the next two days, she attended a prayer breakfast, rode in the convention parade, judged the floats, handed out awards, was formally introduced to the conventioneers and attended the installations of officers.
The daughter of Jack and Mimi Harman and 1992 Liberty High School graduate plans to attend Ohio University in the fall to study accounting.
"Fire prevention is a priority with me, so I'll just have to make some extra trips home to attend Fire Department events," she said.
Harman's contest coach, Terry Blaney, left the convention as the Ladies Auxiliary Fire Woman of the Year.
Blaney has been involved with the Sykesville station since 1975. She was fire prevention queen in 1976 and became active with the auxiliary then.
Since 1979, she has managed the fire prevention queen contest and been auxiliary historian and newsletter editor. Currently, she heads the fire prevention committee and is chaplain.
She's also in charge of the annual state fire chiefs fire-prevention contest. Over the past 13 years, several Sykesville fire prevention queens have gone on to win the county and one or both of the state titles.
"The state auxiliary gives you a period of time that you're supposed to be doing fire prevention programs," Blaney said. "You pick out what you think is your best accomplishment during the year, and the company sends it in. They look at citizenship, community involvement and leadership -- the overall person."
"My main purpose in doing fire prevention is make sure my family and the families in the community are safe," she said. "So I feel like I've done something good."