Jimmy Inabinet has traveled the globe, serving in the U.S. Army and in diplomatic security service over an almost two-decade span. He did three tours in Iraq for the Army.

But as he stood on the stage in a large auditorium, with 27 new colleagues among the audience, Inabinet proclaimed, “Today is one of my proudest moments.”

Inabinet was chosen to represent the Class of 2018 of the Huntsville Fire and Rescue Academy in what was essentially the valedictory address at the April 6 graduation ceremonies.


I felt like I came to the best fire department in the world 35 years ago and I haven’t changed my mind.”


He noted his initial trepidation – “a little sketchy” – in enlisting for HFR and the academy, wondering about his colleagues after the long experience with military brethren.

Very quickly, an incident happened that totally convinced him he had made the right decision – and had the right colleagues – when a cadet instantly, without regard to his own safety, leapt to the aid of a fellow cadet during a training accident.

Inabinet spoke of the cornerstones of what he saw developing in the Academy class, and for which the incident was an example – bravery, readiness, honor and trust.

Inabinet, Smith, Bryant win awards

Inabinet (shown above left), a self-proclaimed “military brat” whose father was a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Marines, was voted by his Academy classmates as the winner of the Leadership Award.

Two other awards were presented to graduates. Jessica Smith was named winner of the Theron Love Academic Award and Cody Bryant won the Russell Smith “Hands-on Skills” Award.

Smith (above, second to left) is a native of Athens who grew up in Huntsville, attending Buckhorn High. As an 18-year-old, she joined a volunteer fire department, prompted by the memory of an automobile accident near the grocery store in which she worked, and her inability to respond to help the victims.

“It just snowballed from there,” she said.

Her husband Joshua is a K-9 officer with Huntsville Police, so the interdepartmental rivalry “has already started. But hopefully, we can keep it to a minimum.”

Smith was the only female graduate but encouraged other women to apply, saying, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. Don’t let anybody bring you down. It’s not average for a woman to do this, but it’s possible.”

Bryant (above, far right next to HFR Chief Howard McFarlen), a graduate of Madison County High, is a third-generation firefighter. His dad, Michael Bryant, is a captain with HFR, and he becomes the sixth member of the family to become a firefighter, along with an uncle, his grandfather and two great-uncles.

Joining the legacy has been a goal – and maybe an inevitability.

“I’ve dreamed about this day for a long time,” he said.

HFR Academy’s Class of 2018

In introducing the Class of 2018, Chief Howard McFarlen reflected on his own days as a young firefighter.

“I felt like I came to the best fire department in the world 35 years ago and I haven’t changed my mind,” McFarlen.

Joining the Huntsville Fire department are these graduates:

  • Chris Boster
  • Cody Bryant
  • Arik Caballero
  • Michael Cramblit
  • Erick De La Pena
  • Brian Dull
  • Matthew Fry
  • Jason Gaither
  • Chris Gamble
  • William George
  • Dustin Hill
  • Jimmy Inabinet
  • Ira Jackson
  • Chad Jones
  • L’Erick Looney
  • Derek McCulley
  • Joseph Mohler
  • Eric Neal
  • Brandon Neely
  • Jared Parker
  • Hunter Rains
  • Nick Reed
  • Jessica Smith
  • Sean Swett
  • Tyler Totora
  • Matt Tribble
  • Jeff Walter
  • Christopher Wilson