Upper Arlington News

Firefighter of the year felt 'calling' to the job

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Tom Holbein, a veteran fireman who "puts service above himself," has been selected as the Upper Arlington Fire Division's 2013 Firefighter of the Year.

Holbein followed in the steps of his grandfather and father to become a firefighter.

His peers chose him for the award for going above and beyond the call of duty in providing service to the community.

He will be formally recognized by Upper Arlington City Council during a Dec. 9 meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.

Holbein also will receive an official citation from Fire Chief Jeff Young and will be presented with a medal and ribbon to be worn on his dress uniform.

"I'm especially pleased Tom was selected as the recipient of this award," Young said. "Tom is one of those firefighters who truly puts service above himself.

"He understands you get into this profession to serve others. Tom has been willing to take on any project in which we've asked him to participate, and he will always participate without really any expectation of personal recognition or gain."

Holbein was hired by the UA department in January 1998. Prior to that, he was a full-time firefighter with the Lancaster Division of Fire and a part-time fireman for the Violet Township Fire Department.

He also was a paramedic at both Community Ambulance Service and Zanesville Ambulance Service, worked in television in Zanesville and was Emergency Medical Services Chief of the Crooksville Fire Department.

Holbein, 43, started fighting fires at the age of 15 as a volunteer for the Falls Township Fire Department in Muskingum County.

At the time, he said, he was drawn to the profession and a call to service because his mother's father was a firefighter, and his own father helped establish the Falls Township Fire Department in 1963.

"There was definitely a calling," Holbein said. "My father was a volunteer and I started on the same department with him, volunteering at the age of 15.

"(My father) is still there today."

The annual UAFD Firefighter of the Year award is given after candidates are nominated by their peers. Past recipients of the award then select an honoree from among those nominations.

Although Young didn't make the selection, he said he endorsed it because of Holbein's initiative and attitude.

He noted that Holbein this year was integral in developing a self-evaluation program for the fire department, and also partnered with firefighter Jeremy Smedley to implement a web-based portal to better track, maintain and replace the division's equipment and supply reserves.

"Probably the item with Tom that overshadows everything else is his daily, positive attitude and desire to make a difference," Young said. "He comes to work every day with a positive attitude."

According to the UAFD, Holbein has received 14 public commendations for his performance on emergency runs and four internal commendations. He also is a past recipient of an UAFD physical fitness Silver Award and received a council resolution of commendation for his efforts at a 2001 fatal residential fire.

Holbein is certified as an Ohio Firefighter II, an Ohio EMS instructor, a CPR instructor, an advanced cardiac life support instructor and an emergency medical technician-paramedic. He currently is assigned at the Reed Road fire station, where he is responsible for the EMS supply inventory.

He serves as a preceptor for newly hired UAFD personnel and local paramedic program students who serve their field clinical experience time with Upper Arlington medic units.

"It always means something when you're recognized by people you work with on a regular basis, but I just want to do my best for God and to be the best I can as part of the team," Holbein said. "We're all a team and we work together the best we can."

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