There were no questions about what career path Newton native Doug Hoffman would be pursuing, it was just a matter of where he would be plying his trade — and, as fate would have it, he didn't wind up far from his hometown as he joined up with the Halstead Fire/EMS Department as a volunteer firefighter while getting his degree in fire science from Hutchinson Community College.

"I was kind of looking to get some experience before I went on to try and get on the career department," Hoffman said.

Halstead is where Hoffman has stayed, though, as a volunteer role in 2004 has transitioned to more leadership within the department — first as a captain and now, following a recent promotion, as division chief.

"It's kind of more of a leadership role than what I was doing," Hoffman said. "I had kind of worked my way up through the ranks. I was captain for four, five years before I applied for this position and got hired for this."

As a captain, Hoffman noted his role focused more on operational supervision — leading the response when personnel were out on calls. Transitioning to division chief, Hoffman noted he will have more overall supervision of the department.

With those new responsibilities come more opportunities to train department staff, which is something Hoffman noted he has come to enjoy in his years on the crew.

"I also kind of like teaching new people, teaching them the ropes, and that's part of what this position is — doing some new hire training to get them up to where they need to be," Hoffman said.

On top of his role as a firefighter over the years, Hoffman has also gained certification as an emergency medical technician and helps the department respond to EMS calls as well in times of need.

For Hoffman, while there are some calls that stand out in his mind that he is proud to have been able to respond to and provide a service (like helping after a wall had fallen on a pediatric patient), that truly just comes with the territory in his eyes.

"All the calls, of the calls we've run, it's just what we do," Hoffman said.

Gaining experience was the name of the game when Hoffman started, as he noted that goal of working his way into a leadership role was one he had from the beginning. He admitted he didn't expect that to come in Halstead initially, but he said he is happy it played out that way as Halstead has been a great community to serve.

For others looking to serve their communities, in whatever role, Hoffman advises jumping in because — as he has come to know — there are numerous individuals who will offer guidance on how to have the greatest impact.

"You have to just initiate the step," Hoffman said, "and there's people there who'll help you get started and get what you need to do."