Chicago firefighter selected as 'Hometown Hero'

August 9, 2011 (RELEASE)

Durbin will take the ride of a lifetime with the famed jet team on Thursday, August 18.

On December 13, 2009, firefighter Jason Durbin was off-duty when he spotted smoke rising from a Lincoln Park high-rise. He immediately jumped into action. After reporting the fire to dispatch, Durbin began his ascent up the stairs to the fire floor to ensure all residents in the building were evacuated safely. Reaching the 28th floor and fighting a thick wall of smoke, he was able to find and rescue a woman he found curled up on the floor. He picked her up and carried her down twenty-eight flights to safety.

Jason Durbin is set to fly with the Thunderbirds in one of their F-16s as Chicago's Hometown Hero. Durbin is currently detailed to Squad 1 of the Chicago Fire Department. To learn more about Jason's rescue, visit

The search began in early April by the Chicago Air and Water Show and WBBM Newsradio 780 to find three nominees to send to the Thunderbirds for selection. The Thunderbirds were seeking a "Chicago Hometown Hero" who has displayed the same effort and sacrifice put forth by American's Airmen every day. Chicagoans were asked to nominate individuals in the Chicagoland area with a short essay describing the reasons why their "Hometown Hero" nominee should be considered.

The Hometown Hero program, started by the USAF Thunderbirds in 2009, is not designed to reward actions but to showcase Chicagoans doing amazing things in their communities. The Chicago Air and Water Show received more the 50 nominees from all walks of life which included average citizens who selflessly saved a life; teachers who made a difference; community volunteers; local firefighters, paramedics and police officers; a softball coach; youth advocates and homecare providers.

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