It’s a big week for Zach Larson of Nevada.
Monday evening, the 18-year-old was sworn in as the newest probationary member of the Nevada Fire Department; this Sunday, he’ll graduate from Nevada High School.
As a probationary firefighter, the 2021 NHS graduate will be in training to do something he’s always wanted to do.
“Firefighting has been in my family my whole life,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in either police or fire work, and more so fire.”
His interest, he said, stems mainly from having a grandfather and two uncles who have been heavily involved in the nearby Roland Fire Department.
“My grandpa (Howie Larson) was on the Roland Fire Department, and retired about five years ago after many years of service. My uncle, Tom Larson, was on the Roland Fire Department for many years and recently retired from it. My uncle, Jeff Larson, is the Roland Fire Chief now,” Zach said.
Aside from a little teasing about not joining the Roland Department, his relatives are happy to see him carry on the family firefighting tradition.
The Nevada Fire Department makes sense for Zach, who was raised in Nevada. He looks forward to being part of the local department. “I’m really excited that the Nevada department trains every single week. I think that’s great for the community — for the firefighters to know what they’re doing. I also like that this department has a lot of community involvement; they’re always doing something.”
Zach said he has a lot to learn when it comes to firefighting, but he’s excited to get started. At the same time he’s learning firefighting, he’ll also be going through training to be a Van Wall John Deere tech.
He said attending Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar and training with the department at the same time have been worked out.”I’ll be going up there (to NICC), but I’ll be back on a lot of weekends to train with the fire department,” Zach said. He also noted that much of his schooling happens with on-the-job training at Van Wall, so much of the time his schooling will happen in Nevada.
Working on farm equipment is another pursuit that stems from Zach’s upbringing. This time, it comes from the other “Larson” side of the family. (Zach’s mother grew up as a Larson and married a Larson!) “I grew up taking part in farming on my Grandpa Virgil Larson’s farm, west of Maxwell,” he said.
He also thoroughly enjoyed the Nevada FFA program. One of his FFA projects was restoring an old Farmall M tractor. “I did that with my brother and grandfather. It was fun for the three of us to work together.”
Another big part of Zach’s youth was his involvement in Scouting. “I’m an Eagle Scout. I was part of Troop 128 in Nevada.”
His Eagle Scout project was building a new playground for Laffey Park in Maxwell. Troop 128 covered the towns of Nevada, Collins, and Maxwell, so Scouts could do projects in any of the three communities. Zach said he picked the hottest day of the year in 2019 for the playground project. They replaced old wooden equipment with new metal structures. “I had my parents, grandparents, troop members and leaders all helping that day. It was great,” he said.
Scouting as a whole was enjoyable for Zach, who said he loved all of it, from the campouts to the Eagle Scout project. “People say Scouting is great to see on a resume, but I don’t look at it that way. I just look at it as hard work that’s been done.”
Zach isn’t afraid of hard work or the learning process, which will serve him well with the training that lies ahead in both firefighting and his chosen career. When he’s not working or training, Zach said his favorite pastimes would be hunting, fishing, tinkering with stuff, and working on his truck. He also enjoyed being a member of the Orange Crush trap shooting team at Nevada High School.
Zach is the son of Brent and Missy Larson. Brent is a custom applicator for Key Coop; Missy is an in-home daycare provider. Zach has an older brother, Jacob, who is attending Iowa State University studying software engineering, and a younger brother, Nick, who is finishing his freshman year at Nevada High School.
—Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada