published Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Jasper's Capt. James Preston "J.P." Durham honored as Tennessee firefighter of the year

JASPER, Tenn. -- While the recognition of a fireman's hard work and dedication is always welcome, they are usually quick to point out the work of the brothers and sisters they ride into danger with on every call.

The same is true of Capt. James Preston "J.P." Durham of the Jasper Fire Department, this year's Tennessee state firefighter of the year.

Durham was named the state's top firefighter in February after being chosen as Marion County's Firefighter of the Year by the Sequatchie Valley VFW Post 6362 in December 2011.

On Monday, the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen took a moment during their monthly meeting to recognize Durham for his recent achievement.

"He's a big asset to us," Jasper Fire Chief Chris Rector said. "We're glad that he was nominated out of Marion County to go and represent us. He came back as fireman of the year, so that was a great job on his part."

Rector said Durham wasn't fazed by getting the recognition and told him "it was no big deal."

"I said, 'This is the state of Tennessee!'" Rector said. "It's not just volunteer organizations. This is all the firefighters statewide. He was, and still is, very modest and humble."

Durham joined the Jasper Fire Department in 2009 and also worked for the South Pittsburg Fire Department from 2004 to 2009.

When he found out he had won the award, he was shocked, Durham said.

"I was just tickled to death," he said. "It was pretty cool, but I was definitely surprised. I didn't deserve it any more than anyone else."

"He's just like the rest of us," Rector said. "It's something that he got this award, and he did deserve it. But, this is the job that we all do. We go out and get it done."

"I just want him to know how proud the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen are of him," Jasper Mayor Billy Simpson said. "He was selected, and it's quite an honor. We're very proud of J.P., and we're very honored that he brought this recognition to our town."

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