By James Schugel, WCCO-TV

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Among all the firefighters and other first responders in the country, a Minneapolis firefighter is in the running to be named one of the best.

The group who gives out a top national award every year thinks Jake LaFerriere is really inspiring.

“All the positive people in my life who have been such a great impact, that’s what’s gotten me, gave me the strength to get through this,” said Minneapolis Firefighter Jake LaFerriere, “especially God above giving me the strength, too.”

LaFerriere and his partner got caught in a backdraft, a sudden burst of flames, while fighting a fire last summer. LaFerriere had to jump out a third-story window to save himself and burned both hands.

He had received third- and fourth-degree burns, and has had to go through extensive therapy at Hennepin County Medical Center. Sometimes he works with therapists five days a week.

“They’re scars I’ve earned,” LaFerriere said, adding that he can now squeeze his hands together, and that doctors are really taken back by how far he’s come. “They can’t believe it.”

The people who put on “America’s Most Wanted All-Stars” also can’t believe LaFerriere’s story, which they consider inspiring. The show is a spinoff of “America’s Most Wanted,” the crime show about capturing criminals, but the award LaFerriere is up for is all about finding the very best first responder in America.

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“I didn’t expect this at all,” he said.

LaFerriere’s mother nominated him for the honor, which in previous weeks has been won by an officer who was shot in the line of duty and a sheriff’s deputy paralyzed by a bullet.

LaFerriere remembers the call from the show’s producer.

“He said, ‘You are one of a kind. Your story is just really inspiring. You’re touching us over here, and we want to nominate you for this,'” he said.

In the last week, LaFerriere has returned to doing light duty at Station 11 full time. He is taking inventory of needed food and supplies and keeps the place running well.

LaFerriere thinks in about two weeks he’ll be back on the rig, back fighting fires.

“If you’ve got to bet money on one guy to make it back: Jake,” said fellow firefighter Dean Anderson. “Tough as nails. Will power!”

Though he said the award is important and he’d appreciate winning, the more important reward is the hard work he’s put in to get back to full strength.

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If you’d like to vote for Jake LaFerriere, click here.