Chad Rushing comes from a long line of firefighters. And he knew early on that he wanted to follow in their footsteps.
As a little boy, Rushing loved to go and see the fire trucks, and spent time looking at them at Leefield. On weekends, he would visit the Statesboro Fire Department. All of the firefighters talked to him about the trucks, and he was even allowed to climb in.
“My family has always encouraged my brother and I to get our education and to do something that we would be happy doing. Mine is fire,” he said.
Rushing is a 2015 honor graduate of Southeast Bulloch High School. While in school, he earned a welding certificate at Ogeechee Technical College, and also took the Firefighter I class as a senior, making him a state-certified firefighter when he graduated. Also during his senior year, he was a major in the ROTC and 2nd Lieutenant with the Civil Air Patrol.
The same year he graduated high school, Rushing began working with the Bulloch County Fire Department as a volunteer, and started with the SFD the next year part-time. He went full-time with SFD in 2019. Now 25, he works full-time with the SFD.
Rushing is still a 2nd Lieutenant with CAP. He took the EMT B class for firefighters offered by Bulloch County.
“My dad, who was a first-responder at the time, and I decided to take the class together. It was a way for us to bond, to have something in common, and it helped to have a study partner,” he said.
Rushing is currently ranked as a Fire Apparatus Operator with SFD. He says what he loves most about his job is driving the fire trucks and helping people during a crisis. He also says he’s learned a lot since becoming a firefighter.
“Discipline and responsibility,” he said. “We have to be observant to our surroundings when we are fighting fire. We have to look out for each other.”
Rushing says the toughest thing about his job is seeing a family lose a family member and/or their belongings to a fire.
He is quick to say what makes a good firefighter — dedication.
“We work 24-hour shifts, including holidays and weekends, which means we could miss family events,” he said.
As for being named Most Outstanding Firefighter, Rushing says he’s humbled by it.
“I am not one for individual attention. I am a behind-the-scenes person or a recognized-as-part-of-a-group person,” he said.