The man behind the mask

by Jessie Leggett

Problem-solving, adapting to situations, and bravery are a few of the traits that Sylvania firefighter Ian Kelsey needs to perform his job. Kelsey realized that he wanted to become a firefighter after two major events in his life. “I have always been interested in it since I was a little kid but at a hockey tournament in junior high, a teammate’s dad, who was a Toledo firefighter, revived someone going into cardiac arrest. That, and then September 11, 2001. Both of those hit home and spurred the drive,” Kelsey said.
He went on his first run when he was 21 years old. “I don’t remember specifics on the run,” Kelsey said. “But something that I remember very well was the mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness.” No day on this job is like the other. Each day of the week they are responsible for different house duties around the station. The firefighters have vehicle maintenance, equipment and medication checks, training, commercial building inspections, public relations, lawn maintenance, safety talks at each of the schools, and on top of that, emergency responses.
Kelsey works at Stations One and Four. On average he usually is working with about four other people at a time. If he is at Station Four on top of the four people there, there are six administrators since that is the headquarters.

Recently, he prepared to take the test to be promoted to lieutenant. That job consists of being responsible for the emergency response of a specific company, including the management of resources and personnel. When they’re not at the scene of an emergency, a lieutenant may be responsible for supervising daily operations at a fire company and spearheading firefighter training.
“I am very proud of him,” Ashley Kelsey, his wife, said. “He has always dreamt of a leadership role within the fire service, and I am excited for him to have the opportunity to sit for the promotional process. A lot of hours and hard work have gone into preparing, and I am confident in his ability and experience to do well. Over the past few years, while serving in the acting lieutenant role, he has had the opportunity to grow not only professionally but also personally, and I have no doubt that with his level of dedication, passion in helping others and serving our community, he will make a great leader someday.”
Kelsey explained, “In this field, you don’t get an average performance evaluation unless you were just hired or promoted within a year. It can mess with your head but you can’t let that get in the way of your priorities. If something is wrong it’s up to the lieutenant to bring up any performance issues and correct them. But our station is moving forward to hopefully, formalized performance reviews.”
The toughest season of the year for his job isn’t a single season. Each has its own quirks that bring its own unique type of calls. But when having to choose, Kelsey noted summer and winter, because of the extremes in weather, which can be more difficult.
“When getting called to rescue, it’s that person’s worst day of their lives. Whether that means they are sick, injured, or their house is on fire. So seeing that side of the job is tough but on the flip side we are going to help make things better,” Kelsey said. “There’s this silver lining.”
The fire service has had a positive impact on his life. “I have had the privilege of working with a great group of men and women to protect our community. I’ve had a great opportunity to provide for my family and raise our children in the Sylvania community,” he said. Helping people and giving back to the community has been a great experience for him.
“I truly enjoy what I do and it doesn’t feel like a job going there with a group of men and women that make the job truly enjoyable,” Kelsey added.
“Through constant training, continuing education and a great support system from his crew, I am confident that he has the tools to succeed,” Ashley Kelsey said. “His passion, drive and selflessness are unmatched by anyone I have ever met.”

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