CNM Instructor Wins New Mexico Firefighter of the Year Award
Photo: KRQE

CNM Instructor Wins New Mexico Firefighter of the Year Award

John McGee, who teaches in the Fire Science program, was recognized for his work as a firefighter and as a mentor
May 13, 2021

During the CNM term, Lieutenant John McGee spends all day at his job with Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) and then heads to campus several days a week to teach from 6-9 p.m. Sometimes he doesn’t get home until 11 p.m. and then does it all again the next day.

This dedication to his job, and to teaching, is what recently earned Lt. McGee the first New Mexico Firefighter of the Year Award from AT&T and the American Lung Association.

According to the American Lung Association, the award is based on several key criteria including dedication, loyalty, and professionalism.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged for my work, but it was the last thing in the world I was expecting,” Lt. McGee says. “I was surprised to find out I won because I am not doing this job for awards.”

Lt. McGee has been with AFR for 14 years. He got his start as an EMT for a private ambulance company and then was accepted into the AFR Fire Academy. After completing the academy, McGee went straight to paramedic school at UNM. 

As a CNM instructor, Lt. McGee says he enjoys the hands-on part the most. He meets with students at AFR and says it’s nice to teach students in an environment where many of them will eventually work.

He also enjoys the wide demographic of students who come through the CNM program.

“At CNM you have students who may not have gone straight to college. For many students this program is a chance to start over and get a second chance. I am a big believer in second and third chances because I have needed second or third chances in my life,” Lt. McGee says.

While humble about the award, Lt. McGee says he hopes his recognition reflects positively on AFR. He says the entire department is dedicated to serving the community at the highest level and he wants to ensure all the firefighters are supported.

He also hopes it encourages more people to become firefighters. 

“This is definitely the best job in the entire state,” he says. “I have had a lot of jobs and I have never had a job that is so rewarding. It is better to give than receive. If you are interested in contributing to the community, this is the best way to give back. You will also walk away with skills you will use for the rest of your life.”

Learn more about CNM's Fire Science program here