Lifelong village resident Mike Barlow has been named the Wellington fire district’s Firefighter of the Year, his second time taking home the honor since 2012.
A certified dive team member and medical responder, Barlow knew there was a chance of becoming a two-time winner but it still came as a surprise at the district’s annual recognition dinner.
“It means a lot that the guys I work with all the time feel that way about me, and I appreciate it,” he said. “I appreciate everyone’s support. Being a firefighter is a job that always intrigued me. I tried to get on with the department before I actually did. Through persistence I finally got hired. It was something I was passionate about and I enjoy the job.”
Barlow has also earned a Firefighter II certification, the highest available in Ohio and a requirement to become a career firefighter.
“It took a lot of work and it’s a lot of ongoing training,” he said. “It’s all worth it in the end to get to do this job and work with good people.”
In 2009, Barlow started his own company, Wellington Waterproofing, which now has clients all over Northeast Ohio. He’s also putting together a new venture with fellow Wellington firefighter Dan Shinsky called All-Pro Insulation.
Between that busy schedule and nights as part of the fire district’s station watch team, Barlow is thankful for a coworker who he can also call a friend and business partner.
“You just have to roll with the punches,” he said. “I’m not a high-stress guy. I try and take it as it comes. This is going to be a spray foam insulation company, and doing that with a buddy on the department is what makes it possible to juggle two companies and being a firefighter.”
“From a firefighting standpoint, I want to have a chance to help people when they need help,” he said. “There’s never two calls that are the same and I enjoy the action of that. It’s never boring.”
Barlow expressed even stronger gratitude toward his wife Sherry and their two children for support, especially in the aftermath of responding to a tragic call — one that rocked Barlow to the core.
Spouses of all village safety service personnel are expected to be invited to an upcoming training exercise on post-traumatic stress organized by Wellington police chief Tim Barfield.
“Sherry is so understanding about my schedule,” Barlow said. “She puts up with so much. There’s so many times where I’m gone for training or I get called out in the middle of the night. Her support makes is easier to do everything I do.“
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.