Blowin’ Smoke w/ Paul Hasenmeier

Paul Hasenmeier, is a mediocre Lake Erie fisherman and tireless fire service trainer.  Hasenmeier has been a firefighter since 2000 serving a small combination department in Northern Ohio. He’s a paramedic, fire inspector, SCUBA diver and an instructor. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science, will be finishing his Master’s Degree in Public Administration in June 2013, is knowledgeable and experienced in numerous technical rescue disciplines, and is a member of Ohio’s Region 1 USAR team. He is an adjunct instructor for BGSU State Fire School. Hasenmeier is a contributing author to multiple trade publications, and he has presented at various fire service conferences and trade shows.   Check out the blog and following along and contribute on Facebook and Twitter.

How many years have you served in the fire service?

I have been in the fire service for 12 years now.

Why did you join the fire service?

I was a 2 year veteran of block and mortar college out of high school and didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up.  One summer between college semesters, I was working on a landscaping crew with a couple of firemen.  They were always going to calls and getting to burn, break, and cut shit.  I thought to myself…”self, that’s a badass job; go to fire school.”   At that point, I hung up the collegiate books for the time being and donned some bunkers.

Is there any distinct way that you have tried to make a difference?

Like many in the fire service, I like to help.  Many people have helped me along the way and I am a big believer in passing on the favor.  Too often we see guys trying to secretly get ahead of another for a job, assignment, or promotion.  My mentality has always been to share everything I know.  You might have heard me say or have seen the closing of every post on First Due TacklePass it on!  We cross the doorplate together, pull hoses together, and run into burning buildings together.  We certainly can learn from each other too.   Chief Tiger Schmittendorf saw something in me and together we are collaborating on .

Have you accomplished any specific personal goals during your career?

Somehow in the midst of being on the line, being married, and having 3 daughters; I have one course left to go to finish my Master’s Degree in Public Administration (expected June 2013).

What is the biggest change that you have witnessed since joining the fire service?

Over the last decade, we have seen a huge change in vehicle technology.  Vehicles are being built with higher strength steels, more airbags / pretensioners / pyrotechnics / ROPS, and alternative fuels.  Our training and tools must keep up with the new vehicle technology.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge that the fire service faces today?

The fire service has been challenged by a struggling economy of late.  Everything from staffing to training to equipment is effected in times of a financial crunch.  Some suggest we can do more with less, however, those of us on the line realize that is not possible.  We do less with less and unfortunately service is sometimes affected.  Understanding the level of service desired by the community and the level of support they wish to give is an important strategy when creating a futuristic vision for your department.

What is the best firehouse prank that you might have “allegedly” been involved in throughout your career?

I’ve heard stories of beds in apparatus bays, dayrooms full of theater smoke, IV bags dripping over bunks and clowns outside the dorm windows of firefighters with a clownaphobia.

During your many years on the job, how were you able to push through the darkest of times?

A great mind in the fire service and mentor by the name of Dr. Harry Carter told me to “do more and work harder than ever when discouraged and challenged.”

If you could provide some of the younger generation of firefighters with a few “words of wisdom,” what would they be? 

  • Train, Train, and Train.
  • Learn everything you can from your crew, department, and beyond.
  • Be sure to soak in your jurisdiction specific knowledge from the seasoned veterans before they leave.
  • Combine the practical skills and experience you gain with a pursuit of a collegiate education.  In today’s push for a more professional perception of the fire service; the greater level of education will help you with writing, communicating, public speaking, software programs in addition to degree specific content.

We would like to thank Paul Hasenmeier for participating in Blowin’ Smoke, and be sure to check out his blog First Due Tackle online, his Facebook page, and Twitter account. If you are interested in being featured in a Blowin’ Smoke article, contact us at