As a student at Trinity Lutheran High School, Mitch Noelker wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after graduation.
That is until he got to experience what it was like responding to an emergency situation.
Noelker happened to be hanging out one day with a friend who was a member of the Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department when that friend got called on a medical assist.
“I just sat in his car and waited for him, but I thought it was real interesting,” Noelker said.
His buddy convinced him to join the Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department after that incident. Noelker was just 18 and still in high school at the time.
“I was only late to school a couple of times (because of the job),” he said. “But I decided that (being a firefighter) was what I wanted to do.”
He began talking to Seymour Fire Chief Brad Lucas about job opportunities and what he needed to do to make himself a good candidate to become a firefighter.
“He kept me on the right path,” Noelker said of Lucas. “I would go in there every couple of months or so throughout my schooling.”
Noelker graduated from Vincennes University in 2015 with an associate degree in fire science and public safety technology.
On Monday, Noelker will begin his career as a firefighter when he starts full time with the Seymour Fire Department, filling a vacancy left by the retirement of David Self. He plans to remain an active volunteer with the Brownstown department, too, he said.
One of the draws to becoming a firefighter is the excitement, he said.
“I like to think outside the box, and I like that literally no day is the exact same,” he said. “That’s kind of a benefit and a downside, too, because you never know what situation you’re going to be put in.”
Being able to adapt is just part of the job, he said.
He also looks forward to being able to help people when they need it most.
Noelker will be stationed at fire headquarters for now and will work 24-hour shifts with his fellow firefighters.
“From the ones I’ve talked to, they seem like a good group of guys,” he said.
Although he has completed all of the basic mandatory requirements, he will still do in-house training with the department. Training is an aspect of the job that never ends, he said.
It may take some time to adjust and fit in, but Noelker said he is proud to be a part of the Seymour Fire Department.
“I feel like the fire department is very respected,” he said.
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Name: Mitch Noelker
Education: Graduated from Trinity Lutheran High School in 2013 and from Vincennes University with an associate degree in fire science and public safety technology in 2015
Job: Newest firefighter with the Seymour Fire Department
Past experience: Has been a member of the Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department for five years
Family: Parents, Phil and Teresa Noelker; siblings, Candice Saleska and Jay Noelker
Hobbies: Water sports, especially waterskiing