The Huntertown Fire Department swore in five new career firefighters Aug. 17, continuing its growth of service to Eel River and Perry townships.
The new members include Molynda Opliger, Logan Keener, Sir’royan Sabatino, Jeremy Preston and Jason Zimmerman.
Opliger was hired as a firefighter paramedic, and Keener was hired as a firefighter EMT — both as replacements for existing positions within the department.
Preston and Zimmerman are both paramedics and will begin firefighter training in September, and Sabatino was hired as a full-time firefighter paramedic. All three of those positions were newly creating — growing the department’s full-time staff by 30% to a total of 13 full-time positions.
“It’s been a huge change for us,” Huntertown Fire Chief Robert Boren said. “We’re really making a lot of leaps and bounds here.”
Each of the new members gave their oath to the department during a swearing-in ceremony. They were joined by their family members and current firefighters. The oath was administered by Huntertown Clerk-Treasurer Ryan Schwab, and each of the newly hired firefighters received a blessing by Lifehouse Church Pastor Tony Johnson.
Huntertown got its first career firefighter in 1998, with just one firefighter EMT on station from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Throughout the years, we gradually grew to a larger timeframe, we grew more personnel,” Boren said. “And, in that time, we increased our hours, our days of service and even increased our manpower to where we are today.”
The department has also gone from a basic EMS service to advanced, and now has paramedic status.
“The fire service — really what we do — doesn’t stop at 9-1-1 calls,” Boren said. “It includes public safety, it includes going out and having meetings with our constituents throughout the area. And as we find new people to be career firefighters and paramedics and EMTs with our department, it’s important to see these true qualities in people because without those qualities, this department would not be where it is today.”
As of this month, Huntertown is also fully staffing a third ambulance through a partnership between Perry Township Trustee Eric Tippmann and StoryPoint Senior Living Community, 3715 Union Chapel Road, where the department now operates a satellite station.
The additional space is intended to improve response in the densely populated east side of Huntertown’s service area, and benefits StoryPoint residents by having a staffed paramedic ambulance onsite.