PIQUA — A Piqua firefighter-paramedic has retired after serving nearly 30 years with the Piqua Fire Department and over 30 years in the field, as well as serving as the local union president for a period of time.
Bob Bloom of Piqua started his career as a full-time firefighter-paramedic with the city of Hillsboro in July 1986. He later moved to Piqua and began working for the Piqua Fire Department in April 1988, saying the move was a better opportunity with a larger department and better equipment.
His professional career was inspired by first being a volunteer firefighter.
“A friend of mine was a member of the volunteer fire department in the community I grew up in, West Carrollton,” Bloom said. “They were looking for help, and I was an 18-year-old kid looking for something fun and exciting to do.”
Bloom gave it a try and soon found his future career.
“I applied for it and joined the volunteer fire department there and started doing my training and found out that I really liked it, found out that you could do it for a career, and decided that was what I wanted to do,” Bloom said. “I kind of just stumbled into it.”
Bloom said that he has since enjoyed being able to help people on a daily basis throughout his career.
“I’ve always been a service-oriented type of person,” Bloom said.
Notable fires that Bloom has fought while working with the Piqua Fire Department included the Mill fire and the icehouse fire in Shawnee.
Bloom also served as union president for a period of time, including during the time that the city was advocating for the passage of the safety services levy in 2014.
“I think one of the things that I’m probably most proud of while serving as union president was the fact that we were able to pass the safety services levy,” Bloom said. “We put a lot of work into that, had a lot of help from the membership, from members of the community.”
Bloom said that Mayor Kazy Hinds, who was not the mayor at that time, as Lucy Fess was still the mayor, chaired the committee for the safety services levy.
“We were able to work together and educate the public and get them to pass that levy so that we would have the funds we needed to maintain the staffing,” Bloom said.
The levy replaced a grant that allowed the department to hire the “safer six” employees — a grant that was no longer available for the department after that year.
“Prior to hiring the safety six, or the safer six as they were known … we were a minimum manning of six, so most days there were only six guys on duty, and with our run volume, we were just getting slammed. Guys were literally just getting beat up every day we came to work,” Bloom said.
“And so when we hired the safer six that took our manning up to eight typically, so it just spreads out the work over more people, don’t get beat up quite as bad, and then when we passed the levy, we were able to maintain that staffing. We were able to keep those six people we hired.”
Overall, it has been the work itself and his fellow firefighters that kept Bloom dedicated to the fire service.
“I worked a job I loved. It’s been very rewarding,” Bloom said. “It’s not hard to come to work when you enjoy what you’re doing.”
Bloom also said that firefighters have been able to develop a unique camaraderie.
“One of the things that’s unique about the fire service is the camaraderie in the fire house,” Bloom said. “The work that you do is rewarding enough, but when you are in a position where at anytime you can put your life in the hands of your coworker — (and) they put their life in your hands — it develops a certain bond that you don’t see in a lot of other occupations, and the fact that you spend a third of your life living together.”
Firefighter-paramedics typically work 24 hours on and 48 hours off, putting in about 2,600 hours a year at the Piqua Fire Department.
Bloom has been married to his wife Debbie for 30 years, who is the activities coordinator at Piqua Manor. Their younger son, Eli, is at Otterbein University, pursuing a nursing career, and elder son, Robby, recently joined the Springfield Fire and Rescue Division. Both sons are also Eagle Scouts.
Bloom said he never pushed either of his sons to follow in his footsteps, but his son Robby said that he wanted to give back. At Robby’s swearing-in ceremony, Bloom was able to put the pin they received on his son himself.
“Definitely a proud moment,” Bloom said. “I’m proud of both my sons.”
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