Former UGA football player suits up for firefighting career

Former Georgia running back Kregg Lumpkin now is a firefighter in Clayton County. STEVE BURNS / STEVE.BURNS@AJC.COM

When Kregg Lumpkin suits up these days, he wears a gold (yes, gold) jacket, a helmet that only has some red (no iconic G) and no facemask.

But the former Georgia Bulldogs running back, now 32 years old, brings the same zeal to his firefighter duties in Clayton County that he brought to Sanford Stadium and the NFL.

“Firefighter Lumpkin,” as one of his superiors calls him, began his duties in November and looks forward to the experience.

“I love it,” he said recently at the fire department headquarters in Riverdale. “It’s a great opportunity to work for a great county.”

Lumpkin pursued firefighting after mulling potential career choices. (After he finished his Georgia career in 2005, he played for four NFL teams.)

“Once your career ends, you can’t sit on the money you saved,” he said.

Lumpkin answered an ad to be a firefighter. Now he’s going through the routine of a new recruit.

The former Stephenson High star sounds like he’s talking about football when he describes firefighting.

“I wasn’t totally out of shape” after being away from football, Lumpkin said. “CrossFit helped me a lot.”

Former Georgia running back Kregg Lumpkin stiffarms an Auburn player. AJC FILE

And there are many techniques to learn. When Georgia was taking on TCU in the recent Liberty Bowl, Lumpkin was learning “rope techniques” from his superiors at Station 13.

There’s on-the-job learning, too. On his first day, Lumpkin was among those who answered four brush fires.

“When I got off the truck, I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “The sergeant and the lieutenant made sure I knew what tools to get.”

Lumpkin also is studying to be an emergency medical technician, something that is common among firefighters in many municipalities.

He can respond to a medical call, but he won’t be able to administer patient treatment until he fully passes certification, said Laura Richardson, who is in charge of professional standards for Clayton County firefighters.

Lumpkin still misses “every aspect” of playing at Georgia and in the NFL “in front of thousands.”

But he’s involved in a new profession, one he admired in his childhood when he watched firetrucks.

“We are trying to save them,” he said, “or their property.”

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