Murry takes over as JVFD lieutenant



JASPER — While interviewing applicants for an open lieutenant position, Kenny Hochgesang, chief of the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department, asked each of the hopefuls who they would hire if they didn’t get the job. One name came up nearly every time.

Wayne Murry.

A six-year veteran of the local emergency response team, the Jasper Board of Public Works and Safety last month approved Murry, 27, to take over the lieutenant spot, which was effective April 1. The move makes him the No. 10 ranking officer in the department.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Murray, who works full time in the city of Jasper’s wastewater plant. “This department is, I think the mayor said here a while back, one of the few volunteer departments for a city this size. So, it is a great thing for this community, saving them a lot of tax money. And to be volunteer, and to be a lieutenant, that is definitely awesome.”

He continued: “A lot of hard work goes into this. A lot of dedication. Getting up early in the morning, or [leaving] from Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into it. And it’s nice to know that it pays off.”

Murry joined the department on his 21st birthday. He’d always wanted to be part of the group because he likes helping the community.

“It’s always something that, whenever I was growing up, my parents taught me to always help people out whenever you get the chance,” he said. “And do the best that you can do.”

Since joining the department, he said he has made many connections and learned a lot — both about the craft and himself. Four months of firefighter training brought him up to speed, and more than a year of first responder training led to him earning his EMT certification.

“To me, medical calls, you’re directly helping somebody on one of their worst days,” Murry said. “You’re directly assisting them. And that’s just something I take a lot of pride in.”

Those kinds of dispatches aren’t uncommon — in 2019, the department responded to 413 calls, and 220 of them were medical assistance calls, meaning more than 50% of calls sent first responders on the city department to assist hospital personnel in providing emergency care.

He’s also seen himself grow as a man.

“I’ve had some great leaders to help me with that,” Murry said. “From Chief on down to the new guys that just joined ... I learn something new every time I’m with the department. [I] definitely have grown.”

He plans to be invested in the department for a long time, saying he’ll be a member “until I don’t enjoy it anymore, and I don’t foresee that in the near future.”

Murry lives in Jasper with his wife, Taylor. The couple has a 15-month-old son, Mason.

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