Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale
Lieutenant Jason Henry was destined to be a firefighter. His older brothers and father were volunteer firemen in the small rural town of Cortland, New York, where Jason was raised. He first became a junior member of the fire station when he was 13, and he was voted a full member at 16. Lieutenant Jason Henry was destined to be a firefighter. His older brothers and father were volunteer firemen in the small rural town of Cortland, New York, where Jason was raised. He first became a junior member of the fire station when he was 13, and he was voted a full member at 16.
When he wasn’t volunteering, he was at his day job building fire trucks at Saulsbury Fire and Rescue, Inc. also in Cortland County, not far from his hometown. It was just a matter of time before his passion became his occupation.
“I always enjoyed helping people.” -Jason Henry
In 2005, Jason learned of openings in the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department from a friend. So he applied, did the necessary training, testing and paperwork to become a career firefighter, and for the past 2 ½ years he’s worked at the Middleburg station.
“I like the people here and that it’s a rural area,” he says of Middleburg. “And the architecture—the mix of new and old.”
Though the firefighters spend a lot of time at the station, training and readying for calls, they also get out in the community, especially when invited to provide public education on fire safety and prevention. On Fridays throughout the school year, you can catch the crew at Middleburg Elementary Charter school having a pizza lunch with the kids and then enjoying recess with them. On occasion, the station members will go door to door checking residents’ fire detectors and espousing the importance of changing batteries. They even carry a few detectors for people who still don’t have them in their homes.
Jason sees similarities between his upstate New York hometown and Middleburg. “Both are small rural towns,” he says. “It’s just mostly horses here and cattle up there.”
Jason and his wife Jennifer, who met as fellow volunteers in New York, live in Winchester with their two daughters ages 11 months and three years. “My daughters are my life,” says Jason, beaming. Where volunteering once took up a bulk of Jason’s free time, his young family is now his focus.
“I always enjoyed helping people,” says Jason of his career choice.
He also appreciates the teamwork and camaraderie. “We don’t do anything by ourselves here,” he says. “It’s all teamwork.”
Since becoming a husband and father, his waking life no longer completely revolves around firefighting. But though he doesn’t own a pair of fireman pajamas, he does sometimes sleep cocooned in fireman-themed sheets that his nephew gave him. ML