As the fourth generation in a long line of firefighters, Josh Chevalier follows in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, William Mulligan, former Belpre fire chief; maternal grandfather, Wayne Mulligan, former fire chief of the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department; paternal grandfather, Ralph Chevalier, chief of the Dunham Township Fire Department; and father, Mike Chevalier, current fire chief of the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department.
Chevalier has been a volunteer member of the Little Hocking fire department for 11 years, in addition to his full-time position as firefighter and EMT-I for Marietta Fire Department.
Question: Have you always known you wanted to be a firefighter?
Answer: I was always kind of obsessed with firefighting. My wife would say I still am. I was at the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department a lot when I was growing up. I don't think I've ever missed an ice cream social. The volunteer fire department is getting ready to replace a 1992 model fire engine. I can remember staying up at night when I was 10, and being excited when that got delivered. It's kind of bittersweet to see it go.
I graduated from Warren High School and then went to Marietta College, where I graduated with a bachelor's degree in environmental science in 2005.
I worked at GE and Kraton, and volunteered at the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department through college. Then, this opportunity came up and I decided I wanted to do what I loved. I enjoyed what I was doing (in both jobs) but all the time I was thinking about the volunteer firefighting side of my life.
I have no regrets. I really enjoy it here.
Q: How do you combine work, volunteerism and your family life?
A: At the Marietta Fire Department, I work 24 hours on, then I'm off for 48 hours. You work every third day. If I'd stayed working at the plants, my wife and I would have had to find babysitters for our two young sons. Now, I'm able to watch them through the day quite a bit. We rarely need a sitter.
Q: What's the difference between your volunteer firefighting responsibilities and your work at the city's fire department?
A: There are more commercial buildings and businesses in Marietta. Down there in Little Hocking, there are more residences and small businesses. You pretty much always have a water supply in the city. With Little Hocking, you use more water shuttles or you use tankers. We don't have a fire truck with an aerial ladder in Little Hocking.
At the Marietta Fire Department and in Little Hocking we do medical transports, so we need to have medical training. The state requires us to at least be EMTs. There's a lot of continuing education.
Here at the Marietta Fire Department, we do in-house training. We can join teams for Hazmat training, rope rescue training and dive team training. I've joined the Hazmat and rope rescue training teams.
I'm an instructor for fire and emergency medical services, mostly for fire. I teach through Mid-East Career Center in Zanesville, but most of the teaching is done in the fire stations here.
Q: You do firefighting grant applications too. Why are you interested in that, and what grants have you helped get?
A: Funds are kind of tight wherever you go right now, especially in the public sector. Funds were prevalent in the last 10 years. They've started to dry up now. Anytime you can bring money back to your community, it's a benefit. I do active searches for grants that can help the fire departments as a whole.
I've worked with Dave Ankrom, captain at the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department. We've received several federal grants over the years. We've received several Ohio EMS grants for emergency services' equipment. It's usually about $7,000 per year. We've been able to upgrade our computer equipment to laptops, and we replaced our heart monitors/defibrillators.
I recently helped the Little Hocking team get a grant for a trailer for storing their diving equipment. When I saw the grant come up, I thought it would be a good idea to get them what they needed at a reduced cost. It was good timing.
Sharon Bopp conducted this interview.