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Updated Feb 10, 2017 - 10:12 am

Off Central: Phoenix-area firefighter teaches fire safety after childhood accident

City of Glendale fireman Jason Webb, left, talks to an elementary school student about the importance of fire safety. (Photo: Corbin Carson/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — People realize their passions in all different ways. One Phoenix-area man realized he wanted to devote his life to fighting fires after undergoing a tragic accident as a kid.

“When I was 13-years-old, some friends came over and we decided, against our better judgement, to play with hair spray and a lighter,” said Jason Webb, a city of Glendale firefighter. “There was an explosion and my clothes caught on fire.”

As a result, Webb received second- and third-degree burns to more than 35 percent of his body. He spent 35 days in the burn unit, missed his entire 8th grade year and underwent about 20 surgeries over six years.

“It really changed my life,” Webb said.

But thanks to his family and a community of Arizona firefighters, Webb was able to recover in a positive way.

“I became involved with these different firefighter groups, [and] I was encouraged to learn more about it,” he said. “Coming on to the fire department a dozen or so years ago, I knew right away that this was something that I wanted to do.”

Today, Webb works at the Youth Firesetter Intervention Program for the city of Glendale, which teaches children the consequences that come from playing with fire.

Webb said his accident gave him an avenue to express the true dangers of not practicing fire safety techniques because of his “tangible experiences. I have scars to show them.”

While the accident has scarred him for life, it has also made him stronger, Webb said.

“Whatever your challenges are, they don’t have to define you,” he said. “We go through these challenges but we can still have great successes afterwards.”

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