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Michael Philibin, left, and Paul Wosterant, new hires at the Athens Fire Department, pose for a portrait at the Athens Fire Department. 

Athens Fire Department welcomes two new firefighters

The department now has a full roster of 21 active firefighters. 

Having both volunteered at the Richland Township Fire Department, Paul Nostrant and Michael Philibin didn’t expect to both end up working at the Athens Fire Department, but weren’t surprised.

“I think our paths both drew us here,” Nostrant said.

The two started working at the department in October. Athens Fire Chief Bob Rymer said their addition to the department brings them up to a full roster of 21 active firefighters.

“It’s always great to have new guys,” Rymer said. “They bring enthusiasm.”

About 65 candidates applied for the openings, Rymer said. The candidates went through a written test, a physical ability test, a background check and an interview, which both Nostrant and Philibin scored very well on, Rymer said.

He added that their height stood out, too, with each coming in at about 6-foot-4.

“I haven’t heard any complaints,” Rymer said. “They’re studying hard, and they’re learning about the department and the city.”

Nostrant, who grew up in Albany, said his grandfather was a firefighter. The camaraderie of the fire department and the ability to serve the community where he grew up inspired him to become a firefighter, he said.

“I’ve always been around firefighters,” Nostrant said. ”I was a volunteer firefighter and thought I should make a career out of it.”

Nostrant said his work volunteering in the past has helped prepare him for his new job.

“I wouldn’t say it’s any more stressful than I’m used to,” Nostrant said.

Nostrant said the studying was probably the hardest part.

“We have to memorize all the streets,” Nostrant said. “It’s a lot to take in, but definitely worth it.”

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Nostrant enjoys working for the Athens Fire Department, saying he “couldn’t ask for a better group.” He also said he enjoys working with the fire truck.

“It’s a tremendous piece of equipment,” Nostrant said.

Philibin's mother worked as an EMT for the Richland Area Fire Department, and he also volunteered there before his job at the Athens Fire Department, he said. Nostrant said he’s volunteered for the Athens County EMS, as well.

He called being a firefighter “the best job in the world” because it gives him the ability to give back to the community when it needs him the most.

“People don’t call you on their good days,” Philibin said. “They call you on the worst day of their lives.”

Philibin said he came to Athens 10 years ago to play football for Ohio University. 

He played football under Frank Solich, OU's head coach. Solich said Philibin was a compassionate team player, and he could see why he became a firefighter.

“He worked hard to reach the level of play that he was capable of reaching, and so I saw him as just a really hard working player that was team-oriented and would set out to accomplish a goal and would get that goal accomplished,” Solich said. “I think when you look at that, that probably fits a fireman pretty well.”

Although Philibin has worked as a volunteer for the Richland Area Fire Department, he said working full-time is different.

“As a volunteer, you spend only an hour or so with those people at a time,” Philibin said. “Here, you spend maybe 24 hours at a time with them, and it’s much different. It’s deeper. I don’t know quite how to explain it.”


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