A conversation with Dave Kunkle, East Grand County firefighter
May 6, 2008
Dave Kunkle, 28, of Fraser is working hard in the valley to get ahead in life. He says his profession is rewarding.The volunteer firefighter at East Grand Fire Protection District No. 4 and excavator for J&L Contractors based in Fraser is a Pennsylvania native. He moved to Fraser at age 13 and is enjoying life in the Valley.Im an outdoors kind of guy, Kunkle said. 1. How many hours do you work a week, and how do you balance two full-time jobs?Kunkle says he works a minimum of 80 hours a week. He puts in 80-90 hour weeks in the summer: 50 hours of construction labor, and donates 40 hours to the fire district.I sleep hard, he said adding that he gets between six and eight hours of sleep a night.2. When do you have time for yourself?He said he has an hour to run errands between his two shifts. He finishes his construction job at 6 p.m. and starts at the fire station at 7 p.m. He gets one to two days off a week.Just trying to do what I got to do and get ahead in life, he said.3. How long have you been a firefighter resident? Since summer 2005, he said. Being a resident I get more hands-on knowledge, he said. I put in 40 hours a week there. His job responsibilities include truck maintenance and ensuring that they are ready to roll. Being a resident has made him a better firefighter he said. Youre just more familiar with everything and know where all the tools are on the truck, he said. It definitely helps out, getting the scene established and under control.4. What is something people might not know about firefighters?We get a lot of calls that arent life-or-death situations, he said, adding that many are false alarms. You still get out of bed at 2 a.m. and make sure its a false call, Kunkle said. We always double check before we say, Oh dont worry about it.5. What was your experience as a fire fighter like when you first started?You just have so much adrenaline. Its real exciting and real nerve-racking, he said. 6. Has that feeling changed over time? Does your residence experience help?Its helped out on staying calm and thinking about how to go about it, Kunkle said.7. How has volunteering been a rewarding experience? Being there, and being trained to handle almost every situation that is there, he said. You can keep people safe. There is a lot of self-pride, self-rewarding (which comes) out of it. Thats what I get.He said people are used to being there for family and friends. But being there to help a total stranger it makes you feel good, Kunkle added.8. Do you work closely with the other fire districts during mutual aid.He said the firefighters work as a team to make sure the scene is safe. They also protect other exposures such as homes and nearby trees.Theres a lot more to being a firefighter than most people think, Kunkle said. Im proud to be a part of it.