FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Spc. Josh Seligman said he didn't become a firefighter to win awards, even though he was recently named the Army's 2009 Military Firefighter of the Year.

He started his career in emergency service in 2003 as a Marine Corps firefighter.
Winning an award for the Army came as a big surprise, he said.

"It took me by surprise because I never expected to win anything from this," he said. "I do what I do because (I want to help people)."

As a driver/operator and rescue specialist, he responded to more than 100 precautionary landings in the past year, according to a June 2 article from the Installation Management Command.

Seligman also voluntarily supported the South Carolina National Guard with live-fire and driver-operator training.

He used his technical knowledge of numerous types of aircraft assigned to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence to mentor and enhance the skill levels of assigned firefighters here and provided more than 60 hours of classroom instruction to fellow firefighters on various subjects.

"He's a very professional individual and a good Soldier. He definitely gets business done," Fort Rucker Deputy Fire Chief Jay Evett said. "We take great pride in knowing one of our own has been recognized."

Seligman's abilities as a teacher and co-worker have earned him the reputation of being a "to-the-point, hard worker and teacher," according to his peers.

"He's very well-rounded and by-the-book," Spc. Brenden Besaw said. "He deserves it. He's done a lot of work."

A firefighter for three years, Besaw said he learned a lot about what it takes to be a good firefighter from Seligman.

"He's really big on maintaining the standard," he said. "Anytime I take on a project or a class to move myself forward he does everything he can to make sure I'm doing it right."

Spc. Jeffrey Catlett said he enjoys working with Seligman because of his attitude and his willingness to work with others.

"He challenges us and puts us to work, but he also gets out there and does all the work with us, too," he said.

Seligman's experience with firefighting goes back to his childhood when he saw his grandfather, Roy Massey, take charge in an emergency situation. It was in that moment he knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

"There was a night when I was a (child) and my grandfather was a fire chief in Orange County, Fla., that he was called out at 2 a.m.," he said. "I couldn't sleep so he took me with him. A lightning storm had knocked down a power line and it was so hot it had turned the sand around it into glass. The other firefighters were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but (he) put the fear of God in them, took charge and told them what needed to be done."