Oxford’s first full-time firefighter/paramedics on job

Three firefighter/paramedics have started full-time service with the city’s fire department, marking a new high-water mark as the division moves further into professional operation.

Two of the three have been in part-time positions prior to this year and were part of the first step toward a professional department five years ago. Three captains began full-time service to the department two years ago—the first in the department’s history—and this year’s hiring marked the hiring of the first full-time firefighter/paramedics.

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A swearing-in ceremony was held at the city council meeting June 20 for firefighter/paramedics Jeremy Smith and Sarah Wagner. Unable to be present at that meeting was Ben Geiger, who took his oath of service at a previous council meeting.

Also taking their oaths June 20 were the three captains—Justin Fields, Christopher Johns and Christopher Meador—who were honored at the public meeting. They began in their positions in July 2015.

Wagner and Smith both started at part-time firefighter/paramedics in 2012, among the first ever hired by the department in that capacity. Wagner has prior experience with the Oxford Fire Division, however, as a volunteer, starting when she was a student at Miami University.

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Geiger was the only one of the three who came from the outside having previous experience with the Colerain Twp. Fire Department as well as several others. He lives in the Kings Mills area, where he went to school, kindergarten through high school. He got his Firefighter I and II training at Sinclair Community College in Dayton with EMT/Paramedic training through Cincinnati State at Colerain Twp. He received his paramedic certification in 2012.

He has held firefighter positions in West Chester Twp., Colerain and Miami Twp. in Clermont County.

He earned his Firefighter I and Basic certifications in 2008 and worked at Colerain and then a year with a private ambulance service.

“It’s good to know where to go every day,” Geiger said, planning to give up his Colerain and Miami Twp. positions. “It’s very interesting not knowing much about the department when I came in.”

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He is happy with his hiring among the first-ever full-time firefighter/paramedics here.

“I love it here, even with my short time here. My coworkers are awesome.”

Smith is a graduate of LaSalle High School in Cincinnati and also Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, where he earned his Firefighter II and Paramedic certifications.

He started with the Oxford Fire Department in 2012 and has worked with the city of Fairfield department for a time as well as spending a short time as a firefighter/paramedic with the City of Hamilton.

His wife, Molly, pinned his badge on him at the city council ceremony June 20.

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“I have always been interested in being a firefighter,” he said. “We had a family friend whose father was a firefighter. We would visit the firehouse. It was something I wanted to do and here I am.”

Wagner started with the Oxford Fire Department in 2012 as a Miami student volunteer and graduated from Miami with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health. She then earned her Firefighter II and paramedic certifications from Sinclair Community College. She moved into a part-time position with the Oxford Fire Division and then progressed to the full-time post when it opened up. She also serves with the Washington Twp. Fire Department in Dayton.

Her badge was pinned on her at the swearing-in ceremony by her boyfriend, Jason Hudnall, a firefighter/paramedic with the Village of Evendale.

All three are excited to be the first in their position, full-time, in the history of the Oxford Fire Division and look forward to long service here.

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Wagner said she plans to be with the Oxford department for a lifetime career. “I’ll be here until 2043,” she said.

Wagner said her volunteer work while a student at Miami convinced her to change her future plans and make the fire service her life’s work.

Smith said being one of the first part-time firefighter/paramedics in the department and then becoming one of the first to be full-time is a special feeling.

“When I started here, it was nice to envision being full-time. I am honored to be one of the first full-time employees here. I hope it is something that continues for a long time,” he said. “This was my first firefighting job.”

Geiger said firefighting had not been on his radar and the only firefighter he knew was a brother-in-law.

“My high school plan was to be in business. After two semesters at Sinclair, I decided another eight years of boring mathematics and calculus was not for me. My brother-in-law got me into it,” Geiger said. “I love what I do. I would not change it. I enjoy that no two days are the same. I come in and no day is the same as the day before. No two runs are the same. You’ve got to think on your feet. Seconds are important in your life or someone else’s life.”

For the time being, Wagner lives in Miamisburg and is keeping her part-time job with the Washington Twp. department at 36 hours per month service, but her first responsibility is to the Oxford Fire Division.

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“I’m happy to be here,” she said, adding service to Miami University, her alma mater, makes it even more special. “It’s neat to see the university changes. My brother will likely go here next year. I like to be still involved in school. I loved college. I’d do it again, in a heartbeat.”

Smith said the job is exciting and they can provide help on many levels.

“It can be a stubbed toe, or a panic attack, or a serious crash. The scene can be a rural one. It’s unique because we are like an island out here. For other departments, help is closer,” he said. “I’m impressed the city recognized the need and created solutions for it.”

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