A Sherman native has recently been awarded the title of firefighter of the year in Texas.
Justin Henning was voted Weatherford Fire Department's firefighter of the year by the department's chiefs and training officers for his dedication to the job and passion for serving the community.
Growing up on his family's dairy farm in Sherman, Henning attended Sherman High School, where he excelled at basketball.
Photo courtesy of Weatherford (Texas) Democrat
Justin Henning is pictured with his Firefighter of the Year Award in front of a Weatherford (Texas) Fire Department ladder truck.
At the age of 18, he followed his family's tradition of joining the Stanley Hose Company - a decision he did not take lightly.
"In a small town, there's no one else to help," he said of the importance of the department.
According to Henning, his brothers, uncles and grandfather are volunteer firefighters- his grandfather a 50-or-60-year veteran of the department - so volunteering was in his blood.
After high school, Henning married his high school sweetheart, Jackie. As his great-grandfather began the process of getting out of the farming business and selling cows, Henning worked at multiple farms in the area, including Peterson and Reed farms.
"I was brought up to work hard," Henning said.
In the following years, Henning landed a job working for the town of Sherman.
He and his wife made the decision to move to Texas in 2008.
Before the move, Henning had secured a position working for the city of Weatherford as a heavy equipment operator. He was eventually promoted to utility work supervisor of a crew working on water and sewer installations.
For 10 months, Henning was taking night and weekend classes at Weatherford College, studying and training in areas including EMT to be eligible to work for the fire department.
"It's a whole different ball game ... I get paid to do what I love," he said of working for the Weatherford department.
"The guys I work with at the department are great. Everyone is here because they enjoy what they do."
Although miles away, his community in Texas is reminiscent of where he grew up.
"Where we live now, in Peaster, it's about the size of Sherman or Clymer," he said.
Henning's two children, Dominick, age 10, and Natalie, age 7, are both involved with basketball at school.
Henning won the last two annual Ultimate Firefighter Challenges, held by the Weatherford Fire Department, completing the course in the fastest times.
"I'm really competitive," he added.
"It is a grueling course - they black-out your mask so you can't see and you have to try and complete the course as fast as you can," Henning said of the challenge.
"You know you aren't going to get hurt, but it's still pretty scary sometimes."
According to Henning, the greater Weatherford area is home to roughly 30,000 people and has four separate fire stations.
Currently, Henning spends his time away from the fire department working at his excavation and demolition business.