The Mifflin Township Division of Fire has nine new firefighters.

The Mifflin Township Division of Fire has nine new firefighters.

The latest class of first responders officially was sworn in during a formal graduation ceremony held Dec. 2 at La Novona Event Center, 154 N. Hamilton Road in Gahanna. The graduates and their hometowns are Zachary Burk, Pickerington; Joshua Burke Grove City; Alexander Daniels, Blacklick; Jacob Gates, Zanesville; Justin Koontz, Columbus; Shaun Mosedale, Pickerington; Christopher Nighland, Hebron; Brandon Staneluis, Gahanna; and Andrew Stevens, Reynoldsburg.

All members of the class were required to possess state of Ohio Firefighter II and EMT-Paramedic certification prior to applying for the firefighter position, said Melissa Rapp, the township's public information officer.

The extensive recruitment process also included a series of physical and mental evaluations designed to determine the fitness and ability to perform under pressure.

"This is a tough job," said Fred Kauser, Mifflin fire chief. "You are going to deal with crises which are difficult to process emotionally. You are going to help people at some of their most vulnerable moments, but it is certainly one of the most gratifying professions one can pursue. We are very proud of this new class and are confident that they will continue to uphold the superior standards set forth by Mifflin Township."

The township's own intensive training program includes more than 10 weeks of hands-on practice designed to provide the skills needed to respond safely and effectively to emergencies in the township, Rapp said.

Drills included emergency scenarios such as fire, search and rescue, rapid intervention teams and emergency paramedical procedures. Additionally, the nine firefighters began riding with seasoned professionals and serving on shifts last month.

In addition to the new class of firefighters, Rapp said, three new paramedic vehicles were added to the fleet this fall and are responding to emergencies in Gahanna and the township.

One vehicle is at the McCutcheon Road fire station, one at the Beecher Road fire station and the third is in the unincorporated district, at the Alger Road fire station.

The state-of-the-art vehicles were designed by firefighters based on their experiences of delivering EMS care to residents, Rapp said.

Kauser said today's firefighters do far more than fight fires.

He said they are the first ones called to respond to chemical and environmental emergencies, such as gas leaks, and they rescue victims who are trapped in vehicle crashes or who collapse on the local golf course. In 2015, Mifflin Township firefighters responded to more than 8,706 calls for emergency medical service and 2,050 fire-related calls for a total of 10,756 calls for assistance. Mifflin Township fire serves the city of Gahanna and unincorporated township areas.

The division has four fire stations and employs 80 full-time firefighter-paramedics.