Firefighter of the Year keeps eyes and ears on technology

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 25, 2013

Troy Fire Lt. Ryan Wolf has spent most of his 34 years involved in community service.

Selected as Troy Firefighter of the Year and assigned to Station One, he first became aware of serving the community through his involvement with the Boy Scouts, where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

“That led to joining the Troy Fire Explorers,” Wolf said.

He was one of the first members of the Troy Fire Explorers and has served on the Troy Fire Department for 15 years. During the day, he works as the technology administrator overseeing computer, video, radio and other technology for the Troy Police Department.

He’s most recently been on the scene of fires at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 292 on Park Street Aug. 26 and a fire in a semi-truck hauling paper products on I-75 May 10.

He said the calls for service usually come when he and his wife, Maily, are in the middle of doing something, such as preparing dinner.

“It never comes when you’re sitting around with nothing to do,” he said. “It is challenging, between the training and the runs.”

Each member of the Troy Fire Department trains weekly for a total of 20,000 training hours last year, or “well over 100 training hours per year per person,” said Troy Fire Chief William Nelson.

The Troy Fire Department is made up of six fire stations, up to 180 volunteers and 10 career firefighters, all certified by the state and on-call 24/7 to respond to calls for service for fires, extrications and other emergencies.

In addition to training every Tuesday night, Wolf completes training for his rank of lieutenant and for the Oakland County Communications Support Team.

Wolf has received a Unit Commendation Award, a Merit Service Award and a Safe Driving Award, and was named Station One Member of the Year in 2006. He also serves on the Fire Department Technology Committee, and is a member of MI-TF1, the Michigan Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.

He’s worked on a number of special projects for the Troy Fire Department, including developing a Web-based app for building plans so firefighters would know in advance where hazardous materials are located.

He was heavily involved in developing a prototype mobile communications vehicle to provide satellite data and Internet capability at incidents.

Wolf explained that it started out as a satellite dish and a Ford Econoline van that was slated to go to auction, and it evolved into the design and procurement of the Field Communications Unit, a designated vehicle that is a countywide asset.

“He started as an Explorer,” Nelson said. “In reality, that’s what makes our Fire Department work. People in the community are committed to this. We have a lot of firefighters that do it most of their life and stay with us for 25 to 30 years.”

Wolf said he doesn’t know who nominated him for the award.

“I’m honored to be a member of such a wonderful department with such outstanding people,” Wolf said. “It’s truly an honor to be recognized for an award. There are so many great people in the department.”