At 25, Jake Herter is already making his dreams come true.
Herter, a Saline a 2009 graduate of Saline High School, is one of three new firefighters hired by the Saline Area Fire Department.
“It was amazing to get the news. I applied at a couple other places around here, but when I really thought about it, this is where I wanted to be,” said Herter. “Getting the job I really wanted in the town I wanted to work in was really cool.”
Herter grew up west of town on his family’s farm. By the time he graduated from Saline High School, Herter knew he wanted to work as a firefighter. His parents convinced him to go to college and earn a degree. He decided on Lake Superior State University, where he went through the fire academy, earned a degree in fire science and an associate’s degree in criminal justice.
It was his experience in the academy that cemented his desire to be a firefighter.
“Up at Lake Superior State we had to go through the academy and that’s when you get to know everyone and you begin to understand the camaraderie and brotherhood,” Herter said.
Herter returned from Lake Superior State and began work on the family farm. He decided he wanted to find work nearby so that he could help on the farm. He also joined the Saline Area Fire Department as a paid on-call firefighter. Herter already knew many of the firefighters on staff. Deputy Chief Charlie Schaible owns the farm next to the Herter family farm.
“I’ve known him all my life. And my dad and aunts and uncles grew up with Chief Hoeft,” Herter said.
Though he knows most of the firefighters and the equipment through his paid on-call service, Herter spent his first day getting familiar with the trucks and enjoying a Saline firefighter tradition.
“We went down to Mill Pond Park, got the hose out and sprayed the kids as they ran around. It was a lot of fun,” Herter said.
The fire department now has nine full-time firefighters and 12 paid on-call firefighters and Fire Chief Craig Hoeft. With the new hires, the department should always have three firefighters on duty.
"It's just going to make it a lot easier when you roll up to a fire, now you've got two guys getting the hose out and getting ready while the other guy runs the truck," Hoeft said.
Over the last 20 years, paid on-call firefighters have had more difficulty leaving work to respond to fire calls. That's one of the reasons Hoeft pushed the fire board, City of Saline and townships of York and Saline to approve the annual $180,000 investment in manpower.