Lori Cope

Mansfield Safety-Service Director Lori Cope talks to family members and friends of new eight new firefighters on Monday morning.

MANSFIELD -- Lori Cope took a moment Monday to remind the families of eight new Mansfield firefighters about the challenges their loved ones may one day face.

It's the kind of information one may expect when accepting a job that involves rushing into burning buildings.

"Coming off the heels of 9/11, I know that you all know exactly what they are signing up for and taking an oath for and what that could mean," the city's safety-service director said during a swearing-in ceremony outside Station 1.

"We're Mansfield, but certainly not exempt from any kind of adventure that may lie ahead. But so you all know they did great in their interviews and we're just excited to see them grow here with us and mature. We will take great care of them."

The new probationary firefighters, six of whom have already completed 240 hours of fire training, are Justin Droll, Travis Pickering II, Erik Bigelow, Elijah Slater, Seth Cooper, Wyatt Dupre, Kai Klempp and Broc Minne.

Slater and Dupre will begin their fire academy training in Columbus next week, according to Chief Steve Strickling, who said all eight of the new hires already have basic EMT training.

All the new firefighters will be on a one-year probationary status, the chief said. The ceremony comes about one month after the Mansfield Police Department swore in 11 new officers.

The new firefighters, all of whom qualified via a civil service test in April, give the department 93 sworn personnel, though Strickler said several upcoming retirements are likely.

Just getting to the point of being sworn in is an accomplishment, the chief said.

"It's a lengthy process ...  taking the exam and the background investigations take a period of time. In the past, we have lost candidates in that background phase because of the length of time it takes and they are already on a (fire department) list somewhere else," Strickling said.

"To get eight candidates this early on with a valid test is a really good accomplishment, as far as I am concerned," he said. "It's a competitive job field so we are excited to have them here."

Each firefighter received a helmet from the chief, introduced themselves and had loved ones pin their new badges on their uniform shirts.

Before Cope swore the new firefighters in, Strickling welcomed the families and friends.

"I get to welcome everyone here for a momentous day, hiring on eight new firefighters, a nice new crop of individuals for the department, we look forward to an exciting 25-, 30-year career for all of these individuals," the chief said.

The six firefighters who have already been to the fire academy will undergo a week's training in how the MFD conducts business, Strickling said, including department rules, regulations and operating guidelines.

"At the end of a week, we send them uptown to a building and we do some fire training in that building ... fake smoke and stuff like that ... introduce them to that aspect of the job and get a feel for how they will function under pressure," the chief said.

"After they, we will assign them to a crew and they will function there for the remainder of their probations," Strickling said.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"

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