On Friday, October 22, at 11:00 a.m. members of the Laurel Fire Department gathered at the department’s training center to celebrate the contributions of Laurel native and 14-year veteran Jermaine Cobbins by recognizing him as the department’s Firefighter of the Year.
Cobbins was voted Firefighter of the Year by his peers in the Laurel Fire Department and was rewarded during the luncheon event with a plaque and $500.00 sponsored by State Farm Agent Brian Guinn.
The event marked the return of the Firefighter of the Year program which had been discontinued 14 or 15 years ago. “I felt like we should have never dropped it,” Laurel Fire Chief Leo Brown said. “It was something I wanted to start back if I ever became chief.”
Now that he has, he plans to continue the program annually to honor the men and women of the department. “It is a great honor to vote for one of your own to be recognized,” he explained during the event on Friday.
During his remarks, Chief Brown praised Cobbins for his positive attitude and for never complaining no matter what task he was assigned.
“For your peers to have chosen you; we know how they feel about you,” Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said. “We appreciate your service to the city.”
Following Chief Brown and Mayor Magee’s remarks, Guinn presented the award to Cobbins who thanked his coworkers for choosing him to receive the honor.
Cobbins explained that many kids have a dream to be a doctor or a cop or a firefighter, but he was not that kid. Growing up, he didn’t know what he wanted to do; but he did know that he wanted to help people.
Later, as he was working as a lifeguard, he was able to save a person from drowning and he knew then that he wanted a job that would let him continue to have the satisfaction of helping people in their worst moments. “I’m always looking for ways to give back,” he explained.
His mother, Reedia Cobbins, confirmed his story. “I give thanks to God,” she said. “I knew he was a great kid.” She explained that as he grew up, Jermaine always had some new idea for what he wanted to be and do to help the community. “We sat back and let Jermaine try whatever he wanted to try,” she said. “He has always had a goal for helping and serving.”
That experimentation is what ultimately led him to lifeguarding and a career in public service. While his mother said her heart “flutters for him every day” because she knows he is in a dangerous profession, she continues to pray. “I know who has him every day. I pray to God to keep you all covered,” she said.
Cobbins thanked the fire department for the honor and let them know that he will continue to do his job just like he has always done. “From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it,” he said. “This is who I am and this (award) is just a bonus.” He also thanked Chief Brown and praised him for doing a great job with the department.
Cobbins lives in Laurel with his wife, Nicole, and their 12-year old son, Jermelle.