NEWARK – Sara Nethers and Patrick Johnson had other potential career paths, but they were excited their journey took them to Newark, where they were sworn in Monday as full-time firefighters and paramedics.
The two additions bring the department to 77 members. The city is authorized to have 79, and Chief Pat Connor said he expects to hire two more in the coming months.
Nethers, 35, a 2000 graduate of Greeneview High School in Jamestown, Ohio, graduated from Ohio State University in 2007, with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. She lives in Nashport with her husband and four children. Her husband is a firefighter in the city of Delaware.
“My father said to go to school and get a degree, so that’s what I did first… I’ve always been interested in agriculture and always been interested in firefighting.”
She added that the decision to become a firefighter was not a difficult one, although the process seemed to take a long time. Nethers said that was a day she had waited all her life since she was a little girl.
Johnson, 26, a 2009 graduate of Willard High School in Willard, Ohio, has been working part-time for the Willard Fire Department for several years. He received his bachelor’s of degree from Muskingum University in 2013. He lives in Columbus with his fiancee.
Johnson earned his degree in geology and worked for a gas company, before deciding he wanted to do something else. He also played baseball for Muskingum.
“I wanted something more for a career... I wanted to take pride in what I did. I think it’s the teamwork aspect of (fire departments) that reminds me of baseball. It doesn’t feel like a job for me.”
Johnson said the city of Newark reminds him of his hometown of Willard, located between Sandusky and Mansfield.
He further expressed his love for the job:
“I love it, it’s blue-collar, working-class families. That’s what I was raised in. I’m very excited to start working here.”
Connor said finding and hiring new firefighters promptly is a challenge, which made the dual swearing-in ceremony even more special.
“Both of them come with decent education, both very nice and highly recommended, I believe they bring the knowledge, skills, and ability we want to the city of Newark. They came with some experience from other communities.”
The new firefighters began two weeks of orientation on Monday. After two weeks, they’ll be assigned a regular shift and start their daily jobs.
Speaking to the newcomers, Connor said:
“We are a very busy fire department… There will be days you’ll be tired and not having a good day. Remember what the community expects of you. Take pride in what you do here.”