“One of the things I struggled with when I first started training was you have to wear 75 extra pounds, on a stair machine for 3 1/2 minutes, I think it is,” he said. “I had to train to get myself to be able to pass that test, because I was not fresh out of high school.”
Howell dreamed of being a firefighter while growing up in the city’s North End. The 1997 Hamilton High School graduate is now a firefighter and paramedic.
He’s a married father of three, with daughters Mackenzie, 14; Addison, 7; and Bowen, 6. His wife is Casey.
“I could remember sitting in my second-story window on Pine Street, looking out the back window, watching them for an hour or two fighting a garage fire,” he said. “I remember the big green truck pulling up at Grant Elementary when we had fire alarms and we’d be evacuating the building. It’s deeper than it’s just a job for me.
“Growing up, as a kid, I wanted to, but then moving into high school, I kind of lost sight of what I really wanted to do. Out of high school I went into road construction. I saw dollar signs, but a few years into my working career, I wanted to do something more fulfilling.
“Shortly after 9/11, I wanted to pursue something more fulfilling than what I was doing, so a couple years after 9/11, I started as a volunteer firefighter where I lived, in Trenton. That’s really where the passion started, being able to do that.”
He kept his full-time road-work job for three years while he volunteered there and got initial training to become an emergency medical technician and firefighter at Butler Tech. He later took fire classes through Scarlet Oaks so he could pursue the fire-service career. In 2007, he left road construction to work part-time at Fairfield Township’s fire department.
He worked several overlapping years as a firefighter in Fairfield Township, Fairfield and Blue Ash, and began testing at other departments, seeking a full-time position. He also went to medic school, and that eventually happened in Hamilton.
Fire Chief Mark Mercer is pleased with the addition of Howell.
“Couldn’t be more happy,” Mercer said. “He shows up to work every day with a good attitude, good experience. He’s where he wants to be. Great asset to the citizens. He’s a top-notch guy.”