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Effingham Magazine

Best Firefighter: Lt. Jennifer Ashdown Effingham Fire and Rescue

Best Firefighter: Lt. Jennifer Ashdown Effingham Fire and Rescue


Lt. Jennifer Ashdown says being voted Effingham’s Best Firefighter “was absolutely a surprise!” After 15 years, she says she loves her job, and as a Lieutenant for two stations she says, “I wear a lot of hats. In addition to being a firefighter I am an instructor and help train recruits. I also teach at the state level and at other fire departments in Georgia.”

Lt. Ashdown joined Effingham Fire & Rescue in 2006, which was all volunteer at that time, not as a firefighter but to run medical calls. She made the change from volunteer to professional in 2013.

“After a Fourth of July drowning call, I decided to move out of strictly medical. I called the Fire Department, they put me in Fire 1 Class, and I became Fire Certified.”

She says going professional was a great decision and being part of Effingham Fire and Rescue has been “the honor of a lifetime.”

Public Should Know

“Firefighters do not wait around the firehouse waiting for the alarm to go off all day!”

Firefighters in Effingham Fire and Rescue maintain their stations, from mowing the grass to construction projects—in fact they recently remodeled a fire station, doing the work themselves.

They also do all the fire hydrant checks in house, a labor intensive task that other departments often contract out. She says, “We save the community money and put our time to best use.”

The public should also know—Firefighters do NOT want you to wait! “We are on duty 24/7. We run every call, from locked keys in the car to fires. And don’t try and put a fire out yourself, we would rather have you call sooner versus later.”

Lt. Ashdown reminds the public that the Fire Department never charges for their services, and “we truly do have the citizens’ best interest at heart.”

Down Time

Lt. Ashdown lives in Rincon with her daughter Ansley and husband JR, Training Captain at Liberty County Fire Services. She says, “I met my JR at the fire academy. He has been my biggest supporter and mentor, always pushing me to do more and be better.”

For down time she plays in a women’s volleyball league at the county rec park, because “I played college volleyball and still love it. JR is a drag racer, so we do that too. These activities take my mind off work, especially if there has been a bad call. We can unwind and do our thing.”

What She loves About Her Job

“I really like the excitement, and I really enjoy teaching.”

She says mentoring female recruits is especially rewarding, as it gives her the opportunity to pass on her hard earned knowledge. “It often takes female firefighters longer to earn the respect of male firefighters but once you do there is acceptance and trust.” She says everybody at the Effingham Fire and Rescue is a mentor, always ready to lend a hand.

“As far as the brotherhood goes, my son Drew passed unexpectedly in January,” says Ashdown. “My department really stepped up and took care of my family. Firefighters from all over reached out to make sure we were okay, even if we’d never met. That’s brotherhood. This is the best job in the world!”