Prince George's County, Md. Firefighter Justin Davidson

Like many little children, Justin Davidson wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up.

"That's all he's wanted to do since he was five," Pamela Davidson said during an interview recently.

And, the proud mother says she has her son to thank for saving not only the family home but her husband and pets as well.

Davidson was honored for his efforts as a recipient of the 2010 Firehouse Heroism awards.

The career firefighter in Anne Arundel County, Md., was taking a nap in his childhood home near Philadelphia on April 11, 2010 when his mother ran in shouting that the house was on fire.

The University of Maryland graduate said he saw smoke billowing from the attic as he ushered his mother and two dogs from the house.

While she called 911, Davidson went back in to assist his father, who suffers from a number of illnesses. "He was down on one knee, but he didn't collapse."

After he was safely out of the house, Davidson grabbed a bucket and a shovel and went back in.

"I thought I could keep the fire in check until the fire department got there."

Despite warnings and threats from local police officers to get out and stay out, Davidson said his training with a ladder company kicked in, and he used the shovel like a hook.

Mrs. Davidson says she's certain that their modest one-and-a-half story home would have burned to the ground had her son not intervened as he did.

Davidson suffered a shoulder injury during the effort, and his father spent five days in the hospital following the blaze.

Mrs. Davidson said while she supported her son's mission to follow his dream of becoming a firefighter, she stood steadfast that education also was important.

"We're pleased that he did listen," she said with a laugh. "He graduated from the University of Maryland and got his masters at Johns Hopkins."

While attending Maryland, Davidson lived and volunteered at the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department where he once served as a captain. He now volunteers in College Park.

"I wasn't worried about him being in the house. I know he's very well trained."