Seymour hires new firefighter


Following a concert at a park in downtown Seymour, Jeremiah Tracey was nearby when a pedestrian was hit by a train.

At the time, he was trying to figure out his own career path.

When he saw personnel with the Seymour Fire Department helping the injured man, Tracey made his decision.

"When the firefighters showed up, they were the first ones on the scene, and it was just immediate professionalism," he said. "Those guys knew exactly what they were doing right when they got there, and it was like, ‘That’s what I want to be a part of, absolutely.’"

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Every person on the scene was doing something, and they were completely serious, Tracey said.

"You’re going to be professional on any call, but specifically seeing that call, it was just like, ‘Wow! These guys did this on a medical call. What would they do on a fire call?’" he said. "It was just really cool to see. I was already in the process (of working toward becoming a firefighter), but that was really what kind of put it over the top."

On May 31, he received a call from Fire Chief Brad Lucas to come to Station 1. Tracey was working as the ordinance administrator for the city, and he wasn’t sure if Lucas was calling about that or offering him a job with the department. It wound up being the latter.

"It was crazy, great. It’s what I wanted," Tracey said.

"He asked me if I accepted, and after the meeting with him and the job offer, I was thinking, ‘I hope that he got an acceptance from that,’" Tracey said, smiling. "I was just so excited. I didn’t know what to say."

During the Aug. 8 Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, Tracey, 24, was sworn in as a probationary firefighter, putting the department at 41 firefighters, including Lucas. Tracey’s first day is Sunday.

Among those present for the swearing-in were his parents, Michael and Julie Tracey; sister, Caitlin Tracey; and grandmother, Sharon Klakamp. His grandma held the Bible, and his girlfriend, Kelly Deppen, stood nearby.

That moment was special for Tracey because his grandfather, Dale Klakamp, had been a longtime Seymour firefighter. He died when Tracey was young.

"It was so cool. Things just came almost full circle," Tracey said. "(Dale) had a long, healthy career in the fire service here in Seymour, and I know (Sharon) was a big part of it, so she should be a big part of mine, too."

Tracey said it makes him smile to know he is following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

"I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it is that I want to do, and I didn’t know him real well, but I’d like to think that the things I do maybe are some things he would have done," he said. "It’s just cool to see that I can do what he did. I’ve got big shoes to fill, so hopefully, I can get those filled."

Tracey graduated from Seymour High School in 2013 and Ball State University in 2016. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

He worked for Goecker Building Supply until accepting a job as the city ordinance administrator in May 2018.

He said he has had a longtime interest in public service.

"It was always helping people," he said. "It was also the adrenaline side of things, and it’s always fun. … It was just overall interest in it."

In October 2018, he began serving with the Jackson-Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department. He plans to continuing that when he’s not working his full-time job.

Earlier this year, his grandmother told him about an opening at the Seymour Fire Department. He decided to apply and earned fire and medical certifications.

Tracey then went through an agility test, a written exam and an interview before being offered a job.

It means a lot to him to serve his hometown.

"I applied to other departments, but Seymour was my main goal because if somebody’s going to do that profession, I would much rather do it in a community that I was born and raised in and grew up in," he said.

As his first day on the job approaches, Tracey said he’s excited about learning more about the profession.

"A few guys told me there’s a great sense of brotherhood," he said. "You do this different kind of job with a bunch of guys that you pretty well live with every third day. I just think that’s going to be a really cool thing to get to know these guys. I’m just excited for it, excited for the job in and of itself."

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Name: Jeremiah Tracey

Age: 24

Hometown: Seymour

Residence: Seymour

Education: Seymour High School (2013); Ball State University (bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, 2016)

Occupation: New firefighter with the Seymour Fire Department

Family: Parents, Michael and Julie Tracey; sister, Caitlin Tracey


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