Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

October 7, 2013

Veteran Jacksonville firefighter becomes Whitehouse fire chief

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Madison Johnson is known by his colleagues on the Jacksonville Fire Department as one heck of a firefighter.

Now he's Whitehouse's newest fire chief – the second person to occupy that role since that fire department was established about a year ago, city officials said.

Johnson is known for grace under pressure. One example of that was in October 2010, when Madison Johnson and fellow firefighter Cory Dahms prevented  a JFD ambulance from erupting in flames. In the process they saved the life of a patient being transferred from a Jacksonville hospital to a Tyler facility.

The incident took place on U.S. Hwy 69 North – in front of the North Cherokee Water Supply Company in the Mt. Selman community.

“We noticed smoke coming from the front of the ambulance and by the time we pulled over the cab and the compartment were completely filled with smoke,” Johnson said at the time.

Johnson was attending to the uninjured patient at the time of the incident as Dahms drove the vehicle.

Working fast to get the patient out to continue treatment, the duo had just enough time to evacuate a major piece of equipment before flames erupted. An estimated $30,000 worth of medical equipment was spared because of their efforts.

Now he's taking that field experience with him into management.

Whitehouse City Secretary Stefani Wright said Madison hasn't yet started working for the city full time but will starting Oct. 10.

“He's been in and out a couple of days,” she said Friday.

Johnson could not immediately be located to comment Friday, but Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White said he will truly miss him. Johnson served the department for nearly 13 years.

“This is a really big promotion for him — from firefighter to fire chief in one move,” White said. “It's a unique opportunity. Sept. 28 was his last day.”

White said Madison is a fantastic first responder, and an overall excellent fire fighter.

“He's an all around good guy,” the chief said. “In small departments like ours, there's not a lot of room for promotion. When you get offered a chance like this you really have to take it.”