Stephen Koeller

Stephen Koeller

“Fighting actual fire was my favorite part of volunteering so far. I really wasn’t expecting to be in like 15 live fire scenarios so quickly.”

Stephen Koeller

Stephen Koeller

Probationary FFI

Station 2: Wilson

Where are you from? I grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri, and I wanted to move west to ski. Like a lot of people, I just wanted to ski. I might have ended up in Colorado but I had a friend here raft guiding and I met people in the summer so I decided to move out.

What do you do for work? Construction, labor, carpentry. 

What do you do in your free time? I ski in the winter, and in the summers I like to do everything: hike, climb, backpack, and I have my own raft so I’ll go rafting as much as I can, too. 

How long have you been a part of JH Fire/EMS? Since the Spring of 2022.

What made you want to join? I’m interested in it as a career, and if it doesn’t work out, I just appreciate the camaraderie. My mom was a nurse and my dad is a teacher, so I wasn’t really exposed to firefighting. Maybe through my mom a little bit actually… just observing those acts of service and watching her; she was an ER nurse, and that always stuck with me. I was a health science major so the EMT side of things definitely attracted me to the department. I have an equal interest in both fire and medical. I’m just attracted to the idea of responding. 

What is your role in the department? Volunteer out of Station 2.

What are your future goals in the department? I want to finish all my training so that I will have more time to really respond. I hope to get hired but I know that’s going to be a process. If I don’t get hired as a full time career staff, I hope to move up in the ranks as a volunteer.

What is your favorite part of volunteering so far? Fire academy was super fun. Fighting actual fire was my favorite part of volunteering so far. I really wasn’t expecting to be in like 15 live fire scenarios so quickly. 

How about the most challenging? The time commitment. Just finding the balance of fire, work, and play and relationships. 

How do you manage family time with volunteering? My girlfriend definitely understands and supports me. Because I have only been part of the department for less than a year, when I do get that call, it’s still very exciting to me. I haven’t had a situation where I’ve gotten a call and not been excited to go.

What advice would you give new recruits? I would say just to really be on top of managing your time and knowing that it’s going to be hard work for a pretty long time. Doing the mental math, I feel like I’ve put in an extra ten hours a week of hard work and I would recommend being prepared to do that for another year or year and a half.

What is the most valuable trait for someone to have in this line of work? So far? Going through fire academy, I’d say being fit, just handling all that equipment and having to make difficult decisions and recalling certain protocols while under physical stress. Being fit overall is huge.

What do you think you bring to the department? I’m a pretty good yes man. I think I’m good at following orders and getting in line and I’m really game to do anything. I trust the people in the department to make decisions for me.

Who is your mentor in the department? I like Captain Sullivan a lot. She does a really good job keeping us entertained through all the trainings. When I think about what a fire academy is to each person and for her to still keep it engaging…That’s impressive.