MANSFIELD — The Thundering Herd’s loss became the Mansfield Fire Department’s gain.

Mike Garn, a 6-foot-5 member of the Marshall University football team until injuries forced him from the game, was among five new firefighters sworn in on Tuesday afternoon during a ceremony at Station 1 on Third Street.

The 21-year-old former All-Ohioan for Hillsdale High School had his badge pinned on by his father, Mansfield fire Capt. Robert Garn.

“I knew growing up in high school that I loved my dad’s profession, but when I had the opportunity to play college football, I couldn’t say no. That was a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Garn said after the ceremony.

“After the injuries, I decided I wanted to move on with my life and pursue a career and that’s when I decided to become a firefighter,” the 2019 Hillsdale graduate said.

Robert Garn has been with the MFD for 22 years and said he was extremely proud of his son.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “He has worked hard to get to this point. I just want him to be fulfilled … if he has a good career, that’s all that matters.”

Garn and the other new firefighters — Isaiah Adams, Patrick Ryan, Elijah Thomas and Mitchell Perry — have all received firefighter training and at least basic EMT training, according to Chief Steve Strickling.

That prior training shortens the overall training time to 4 to 4 1/2 months, the chief said, when they can be considered part of the department’s manning complement.

“They will basically work four 10-hour days this week as an introduction week. They will then be put into individual crews and 24-hour shifts starting next week,” the chief said.

The five new hires will bring the department to its authorized manpower of 93. Strickling said retirements scheduled this year will lead to additional openings.

Strickling and acting Safety Service Director Dave Remy welcomed friends and family members of the five new firefighters.

“It’s obviously another one of those days when we’re hiring new people. We like to see that … get a new crop of young people that really have all their basic training already done,” the chief told the gathering.

“These guys will be able to start working for us and be committed to the streets in short order,” Strickling said.

The chief said the department will offer an entry-level Civil Service test on Aug. 20. That test will allow the department to build a new list of eligible hires, Strickling said.

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