Two men join MFD team

The Marshalltown Fire Department has added two new members to its team and they completed their first shift over the weekend.

Ryan Van Arkel, 28, and Isaac Allmaras, 24, were sworn in as firefighters Jan. 13, then completed a four-week training academy and then began their duties as local firefighters.

Allmaras, of Cedar Rapids, was a volunteer firefighter in Cedar Rapids for about a year and a half. He said he has learned so much during his first shift and there is a big difference between being a volunteer and full-time firefighter.

“I really enjoy being full time and getting to know the guys better,” Allmaras said. “They give me tips, I appreciate how friendly they are towards me.”

While on his first shift, he did not put out an actual fire, but received many calls – everything from paramedics to burnt food.

“Overall it was kind of exciting,” Allmaras said. “The medical ones were probably most interesting. One person broke their ankle, it was kind of a bad break so I was just kind of learning the ropes of the ambulance and how all that stuff works.”

He said the biggest challenge is the unknown.

“You always have to be ready no matter what,” Allmaras said. “It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you always have to be ready for a call and mentally prepared. If you’re sleeping and wake up to an alarm, you have to know exactly what you’re doing and exactly what your job is.”

Being a firefighter is something Allmaras said he always wanted to do.

“I’ve always had a passion for it,” Allmaras said. “I feel it’s a very interesting job. You never know what’s going to happen. I really enjoy just wanting to help people and just being kind of in that brotherhood with other firefighters and the whole aspect of it.”

Van Arkel, of Ottumwa, was an Ottumwa firefighter for about a year and a half. He said the Marshalltown Fire Department is very similar to the Ottumwa Fire Department, but he still has a lot to learn.

“I like it,” Van Arkel said. “I want to learn the role and how everything works here and bigger calls with bigger fires and stuff.”

Van Arkel did not go on any calls his first shift, but he said he enjoyed getting in the swing of things and being able to learn how everything works.

“I like learning and all the people, personality and getting to know everybody,” Van Arkel said. “I’m just excited to be entrenched in it, it’s new, fun and exciting.”

The biggest challenge Van Arkel said, is getting to know the new community of Marshalltown.

“I’m just learning where everything is and how everything is laid out is the biggest challenge for me,” Van Arkel said. “Everything works a little different, so just kind of adjusting to the new faces and new places.”

Van Arkel said he became a firefighter because he likes to help people and every day is different.

“I like it just because you get to see a lot of different people and you hardly ever do the same thing,” Van Arkel said. “It’s not repetitive, there’s always something different and always something changing and you’re learning something new.”

Scott Johnson, acting fire chief, said both men have good experience and look like hard workers.

“I think they both look like they have good character and they want to be here,” Johnson said. “It’s good to have people that want to be a part of the Marshalltown Fire Department.”