Jordan Thomas became interested in being a firefighter right out of high school, when a friend interested him in joining the St. Joseph Volunteer Fire Department.
“I never thought of it as a career,” Thomas said during a recent interview. “I didn’t know it was a career.”
Thomas, who made firefighting his profession when he joined the Owensboro Fire Department in 2015, has been named the department’s 2022 Firefighter of the Year by OFD staff.
Thomas also received the award for 2021.
OFD Chief James Howard said nominees are chosen by the staff, with finalists selected by the command staff. The winners are chosen by anonymous ballot, Howard said.
In a social media post, OFD officials wrote Thomas “has a bright future with our department, and provides a fantastic example to others with his positive attitude and proactive drive. He works hard to make himself and those around him better at the skills that make a difference in keeping our community safe.”
“I take a lot of pride in it,” Thomas said of the award. He credits anything he has accomplished to his fellow firefighters.
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“I couldn’t do it without everybody else here,” he said. “My coworkers make it a joy to come here and push my abilities. There are a lot of really solid men and women who work here.”
When Thomas became interested in becoming a professional firefighter, he obtained a degree in fire science from Owensboro Community & Technical College. Thomas said he got into the profession because he was interested in “the aspect of helping people and helping the community I grew up in.”
“Every day, there are new challenges,” he said. “There is always something new to learn and something to do.”
Howard said Thomas “is a good role model for the department. He always has a positive mindset and is willing to learn. He’s always ready to help out with any initiative or project.
“He always steps up whenever we need something.”
The department also named Zerrik Wells, who joined the department in 2021, EMS Responder of the Year. Andy Owen, who has been with OFD since 2009, was named Engineer of the Year, and Lt. Andrew Behl, who started with the department in 2011, was awarded Officer of the Year. Curtis Johnson, who retired after a full career at OFD before returning, was chosen as Rookie of the Year.
Owen and Behl have also been recognized for their achievements before: Owen was Engineer of the Year in 2018, and Behl was Firefighter of the Year in 2016.