Following his folks footsteps

The newest addition to the Wapakoneta Fire Department did not have to look far for his inspiration — he comes from a family devoted to public service.

Standing in front of bright red fire truck Saturday morning in a bay of the Wapakoneta Fire Station, Adam Schulze repeated the firefighter’s oath as administered by Mayor Rodney Metz and started his career in public service.

“My mom got me interested in the medical side and my dad in public service,” Schulze said. “My parents and my siblings have had a big influence on my life.”

The 21-year-old followed in the footsteps of his father, Nick, who served as a deputy with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, and his mother, Julie, who worked as a nurse, by serving the public. His parents’ devotion to public service also spread to his siblings,

He has two brothers, Aaron and Andy, and two sisters, Kristi and Katie. Aaron works as a police officer, while Andy is in physical therapy. Kristi is a physical therapist assistant and Katie is a nurse practitioner.

“I first became interested in firefighting during my senior year in high school,” Schulze said. “My brother-in-law was a volunteer and I went up to the station during his trainings and I really enjoyed it, so I thought I would make a career of it.”

His brother-in-law is Greg Klosterman, who volunteered with the Montezuma Fire Department and is married to his sister, Kristi Klosterman, made the training “pretty exciting,” as well as “challenging, but fun.”

Schulze found himself hooked.

After graduating from Marion Local High School, he attended Sinclair Community College where he earned his degree in firefighting and received his paramedic training.

While still attending classes, Schulze volunteered to serve with the Chickasaw Fire Department.

“While volunteering there, I learned a lot of little things they left out in class,” Schulze said. “They are all volunteer and the way they work a fire is a little different. They don’t have any fire hydrants so they rely heavily on tanker trucks.”

Schulze, who is the third firefighter to join the force since May, started on Oct. 29.

After scoring well on the civil service test and meeting the required criteria, Fire Chief Kendall Krites got to know Schulze as he worked as the swing-shift firefighter. He also checked with Chickasaw Fire Chief Mark Seitz, a friend of his, so he gained even a better understanding of the young man.

“I think he is a remarkable young man — he is sharp, enthusiastic, mild-mannered and quiet,” Krites said. “I also was informed of his demeanor by the fire chief of Chickasaw. I know him (fire chief) real well and I talked with him about Adam and he knew the whole family and said they were a great family and Adam was a good young man.”

After three months on swing shift to learn more about the department and to be exposed to all the firefighters, Krites assigned Schulze to Capt. Jeff Orphal’s squad.

“He has been fitting in very well,” Krites said. “He is an asset. I am looking forward to him making it a career of working for the Wapakoneta Fire Department and EMS and I hope he feels the same way.”

Now that he has been on the force since the end of October, Schulze can appreciate the differences between a volunteer fire department and full-time fire department.

“Every department has their own little nuances and you learn a lot about how each different department works,” Schulze said. “I have learned a lot regarding my paramedic skills — I had just gotten out of class and they have been great at teaching me the different tricks of the trade.”

The newest member of the Wapakoneta Fire Department does not intend to stop learning as a member of the force.

“I want to just keep on training and getting better,” Shulze said as his girlfriend, Leanna Schmit, of St. Henry, stands nearby. “I’ve always had an interest in getting more training and getting more knowledge. I don’t have as much experience as some of the firefighters here, so I listen to what they say and I listen to their stories. If they have something to teach me, I pay attention.”

He said during his visits with his high school teams and just passing through the town provided him with enough exposure to be attracted to its feel and feel.

“I’ve been here a few times and it seemed like a nice city and it was close to home,” said Schulze, who hails from Maria Stein. “There are not a lot of places around here that I could be close to family and work as a full-time firefighter.

“I also liked the old look to the city and it always seemed like a really nice city,” he said.

Schulze, who played football and basketball for the Marion Local Flyers, also said he likes the fact he can still dabble in his hobbies. He plans to continue to play basketball as a hobby along with getting out his favorite poles to go fishing.