Johnny Crawley's enthusiasm for his profession is apparent in his office, where hundreds of model fire trucks, some antique, line the built-in shelves.
Mr. Crawley, Thomson's deputy fire chief, has been collecting fire trucks and other memorabilia for more than 33 years, "fresh out of high school," he said.
Now, that dedication to fire service has elevated him to the top position in the Georgia State Firefighters Association.
Mr. Crawley has been named President of the GSFA, an organization founded in 1952 by a group of fire chiefs dedicated to accomplishing goals through a collective group rather than individually.
"He will be a tremendous asset in the position of president. He's very articulate, he's very detailed and he's aggressive in efforts to improve the fire service," said Georgia Ann Smith, CEO of the GSFA.
Mr. Crawley ascended to the position of president after coming up through the ranks of the GSFA, beginning with the position of director at large.
"It is gratifying to know that your peers have enough trust in your leadership abilities to lead this association into the future," Mr. Crawley said.
Mr. Crawley, who has been a firefighter since he was 16 years old, is a charter member of the McDuffie County Fire Service. He is one of the original founders of the first county wide fire department, South McDuffie Fire Department.
Mr. Crawley comes from a long line of public safety officers. His grandfather was a police officer in the 1920s, and as part of his duties he drove the fire engine. His father was assistant fire chief for 44 years for the Thomson Fire Department, and his brother was also an assistant chief for 34 years.
In his years on the force, Mr. Crawley has a lifetime of memories. One of the most somber occurred following the terror attacks in New York City Sept. 11, 2001.
"It was a solemn feeling standing there looking down at that pit (ground zero)."
"The size of that massive grave is hard to imagine," said Mr. Crawley, who traveled to New York after the attacks. To aid survivors of firefighters killed in the attacks, the GSFA raised $1 million, he said.
As president of the GSFA, Mr. Crawley will serve on the Georgia Indemnification Review Board, which oversees benefits for public safety officers killed in the line of duty.
He will travel throughout Georgia representing the organization's 5,000 members at meetings and conferences. In addition, he will serve as spokesman for the association and will recruit new members.
Any firefighter can join the organization, which is the largest and oldest fire service organization in Georgia and has been in existence over 50 years.