Terry Luthy's lifelong dream of being a professional firefighter is about to become a reality following a detour into law enforcement.
Luthy will join the Fremont Fire Department Feb. 12 after spending 7 years as a police officer, the last 4 1/2 with the Fremont Police Department.
"I've had an excellent time working for the police department," Luthy said. "I'm not leaving the job because I hate it; this is just another dream that I want to pursue."
It's a dream that began when Luthy was a young boy in Oklahoma. Shortly after graduating from Mead High School, Luthy joined the Mead Volunteer Fire Department, followed by stints on the Yutan, Neligh and - currently - Valley volunteer fire squads.
"Once I got on the volunteer fire department it just kind of became a passion," Luthy said. "It's one of those things where you do things that most people think you're crazy for doing. It's kind of like law enforcement: When everyone else is running away, we're running to it."
Luthy still had aspirations of being a professional firefighter when he was working as a dispatcher for the Saunders County Sheriff's Office and had an opportunity to ride along with deputies.
"That kind of opened my eyes to law enforcement," Luthy said.
He landed a job as an officer in Neligh before joining the department in Fremont.
During his time in Fremont, Luthy has been on the same scene with firefighters on a number of occasions. He especially remembers a house fire that killed a woman and her two children in February 2008.
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"I watched the Fremont Fire Department and how they operated on that scene and was impressed," Luthy said. "After that I always kind of thought if I was going to apply for a fire department, I would apply here because of how smoothly they operate and how good of a job they do.
"Every call I've ever been on, they're always professional and courteous, and we all get along there. That's kind of a unique trait to Fremont is how all of the departments really get along."
Luthy, whose last shift with the police department will end Friday morning, believes his time as a police officer will help him as a firefighter because he knows how to handle stressful situations and is comfortable dealing with the public.
"The ability to help people and deal with people in some of their worst moments, that's probably the biggest asset I can bring to the table with my experience in law enforcement," he said.
Luthy will have to adjust from working 10-hour overnight shifts to working 24-hour shifts every three days with the fire department.
He also will go from being a veteran officer to a rookie at the fire department.
"I think there's a lot of experience in that station, so I'm hoping to absorb as much as I can," Luthy said.
Luthy is grateful for the support he has received from his family, including his wife, Michelle, and the couple's two children, as he prepares to make the career transition.
"From Day One she's had the mindset of whatever I do, she's with me 100 percent," Luthy said. "I thank her for that, and without her support I probably wouldn't have been able to make the decision."