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The Chillicothe Voice

Why I Joined Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District – Zach “Smiley” Scherer

May 31, 2023 11:35AM ● By Zach “Smiley” Scherer

Hello, my name is Zach Scherer, or as many of you know me, “Smiley.”  I am 24, and I have spent my entire life in Chillicothe. At this time, I am currently going through an apprenticeship to become an industrial electrician through Liberty Steel and Wire. 

Why did I become a volunteer firefighter for Chillicothe? A little history about my family first. I am the third generation firefighter, as my grandfather Ed Payne and my great grandfather Bill Payne were both on the Chillicothe Fire Department in the 60s and 70s. My grandfather was captain of truck 2 at station 1, where I am currently stationed; pretty cool to say I am at the same station he was. 

So back to why I became a volunteer firefighter for Chillicothe. I was 18. I had freshly graduated from IVC High School and had yet to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I was working part-time at Geiger True Value Hardware. I got the job through the co-op program with the high school. More than I’d like to admit, while I was working, I would look at the sign the fire department had up, “Join Now,” on the public bulletin board, and I would think to myself, am I physically or mentally capable of being on the fire department? Could I really see myself as a firefighter? One day as I was working the cash register, in walks now retired Assistant Chief Greg Hurd, and he said to me, “ Have you ever thought about joining the fire department.” My initial answer was no; I didn’t want him to know I had been curious. He ended up giving me an application and told me to take it home and think about it. At that point, there was no question. I had the application filled out and turned in that evening. I got a call shortly later and started my initial training, and three months later, I was running calls as a recruit. And who would have thought I would be going to my first structure fire after less than a week of running calls? From that point on, I was hooked. One thing I can say as a Chillicothe firefighter, you can never train enough, and that’s one thing we do a lot of—training.

Now that I’ve been in the department for five and a half years, I proved many people wrong, including myself, who thought I wouldn’t last when expressing my interest in joining the fire department. My favorite part about being in the Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District, besides helping my community, is that its members are a second family for me. Everyone is there for one another. I have made many friends from the department and even surrounding departments. I can honestly say joining the department was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Now that you have heard my story of why I joined, what’s stopping you?