WATE 6 On Your Side Heroes

Firefighter: A career spent protecting others

WATE 6 On Your Side Heroes

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Nominations for our weekly WATE 6 On Your Side’s Hero Award keep pouring in. This week, we’re honoring a man who has dedicated his life to serving others as a firefighter. With the help of the young man who nominated him, we caught David Gray off-guard with our hero award.

He’s never turned away from danger: Raging fires. Catastrophic crashes — David Gray has been there to help people during their toughest times. When he’s not on an emergency run, he has taken time to mentor young people like Gabriel Cardenas.

“He was a good influence on me,” Gabriel says, “starting out, fire service, and anything I need I can go straight to David.”

When we surprised David by telling him Gabriel had nominated him for our hero award, this team player was definitely not comfortable in the spotlight.

“That thing’s bright,” David said, pointing to our camera and lights. “I’m a wreck right now,” he grins. “I don’t get tore up or I don’t get nervous in a lot of different situations but right now with that thing on me, it’s got me.”

David Gray has a lot to be proud of, starting his career with Knoxville’s rescue squad. Then in the mid-90s went through the academy with Rural Metro, becoming a full-fledged firefighter.

In 2007, he joined the Oak Ridge Fire Department, and is now working at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

It’s been a career spent protecting others.

“It’s the job I chose, ” David says, ” and I really haven’t worked a day in my life. I enjoy it.”

Like most true heroes, David wanted to pay more attention to the firefighter following in his footsteps.

“There are people in the class who stand out, who just get it, who eat it up, so to speak, or live it. And so Gabe is one of those. He stood out. He was one of those. He was student of the year,” David says.

Gabriel smiles and says David is a “big book of knowledge. He’s been around the block, pretty smart, and he’s just a great guy.”

Our thumbs up and thank you to brave hero and all around nice guy, David Gray.

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