LOUDONVILLE -- A lifelong Loudonville resident was recognized Tuesday as the city of Wooster's firefighter of the year.
Third generation firefighter, Joe Kiefer was honored for "going above and beyond" in his field and more specifically for starting and spearheading a smoke detector installation program through the American Red Cross in Wooster.
Recently, there was a fire at one of the residences that he had installed an alarm. The smoke detector alerted the family to an oven fire while they were in another room. As a result, damage was limited and no one was injured.
"It made a difference, and I don’t need an award for that. It’s gratifying on its own," said Kiefer, who is a lieutenant for the city of Wooster's fire department.
His coworkers, however, recognized his effort and nominated him for "firefighter of the year."
"It's humbling," Kiefer said. "I love helping people. So this is kind of cool."
Kiefer has been with the Wooster's Fire Department more than 18 years. He was promoted to lieutenant three years ago.
He started his career as firefighter for about 26 years in Richland County's Mifflin Township in 1993, and has been volunteering longer than that. He joined the Loudonville Fire Department as a volunteer in 1988. He remains there today as the volunteer assistant chief.
"It's something I still love. After all these years, I still enjoy the job," Kiefer said. "I don't get burnt out. I still get a lot of gratification from it."
Kiefer's wife, Lara is the executive director for the local branch of the American Red Cross. This connection was partly what encouraged him to introduce a smoke detector installation program in Wooster.
Since launching the program two or three years ago, he estimates well over 100 smoke detectors have been installed in Wooster.