HWS firefighters work to protect Geneva community
With a history of community service that traces back to the founding of both Colleges, it's no wonder that Hobart and William Smith were named one of the Princeton Review's 81 Colleges with a Conscience. Over the past several years, the HWS community has continued to test the boundaries of collegiate community service, even putting their lives on the line to work as fire fighters in the Geneva community.
It's an invaluable service, providing a lifeline to those who need it most. It's also a dangerous, often time consuming job, but that doesn't keep dedicated HWS students away. “We've had Hobart men join the department in the past, but never to the extent that it is now,” says assistant fire chief Kevin Powers. Currently, there are eight students and one alumnus volunteering with the Nester Hose Company in Geneva while HWS Director of Sports Information Ken DeBolt has been a volunteer firefighter with the C.J. Hook & Ladder Company of Geneva for more than 10 years.
“If these men were just looking to put in some community service hours, they certainly all could have picked easier jobs,” jokes Powers. “But they all really seem to enjoy the work, and we're lucky to have them in the department.”
Tim Horstman '08 became involved in fire fighting as a high school sophomore and joined the Geneva department shortly after arriving on campus in 2004. “I joined the GFD because I love being a fire fighter, and I felt like a piece of me was missing without it,” he explains.
It was Horstman's passion that inspired other Hobart students, like Sean Kipperman '06, who joined the department before his graduation last May and is now a live-in volunteer.
“At the Colleges, we pride ourselves on being community service oriented, but you have to really become a part of the community to understand why it's so important to be involved,” says Kipperman. “The fire department has become my second family. Becoming a part of it is the most worthwhile thing I've ever done.”