By CHRISTIN COYNE
One Weatherford firefigher’s selflessness and dedication to the job and those around him was recognized earlier this month when Justin Henning was named the 2013 Firefighter of the Year by the Weatherford Fire Department.
“If I could hire a million [of him], I would,” Training Chief Jonathan Peacock said of the 35-year-old firefighter who only recently took on firefighting as a paid occupation.
“I enjoy helping people,” 35-year-old Henning said about why he is a firefighter.
Growing up in Sherman, NY, Henning said he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Tom Sweatman, and other family members and joined the volunteer fire department at the age of 18.
In the small dairy farm community about the size of Brock or Peaster, if you weren’t there for your neighbor, there wasn’t anyone, Henning said.
During the recession that began in 2008, his community was hit particularly hard, according to Henning, who said he and his family moved to Parker County, where he took a job as a heavy equipment operator and later work as a utility work supervisor.
Realizing that he could get paid to do something he enjoyed, Henning started taking fire academy classes at Weatherford College and served as a reserve firefighter with the Weatherford Fire Department for a year. About three years ago, he was hired as a full-time firefighter and has since distinguished himself.
Henning’s supervisor of two years, Battalion Chief Wes McBride, said Henning is very dependable and always willing to help anyone, whether it’s a Weatherford resident or another firefighter.
“He would do anything for anyone,” his grandmother, Janice Sweatman, echoed.
Even when he may not agree with something, Henning always keeps a positive attitude, and is a humble, selfless man, Peacock said.
Peacock said Henning, using skills from his previous occupation, has taken responsibility for helping transform the department’s new training center into a usable facility.