Firefighters have demanding jobs, but a life, too

Christina Anthony

You’re not punching a time clock, and every day is different.

Scott Craig of the Kent Fire Department laughs at a joke from another firefighter during their down time over the weekend. The firefighters work 24-hour shifts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sam Twarek | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Lights flash on. Sirens sound.

It is 3 a.m. and you were in a deep sleep, but now you have just seconds to rise up, put your boots on and get in the truck.

There’s a fire alarm somewhere in Kent.

“It takes a unique person to do this,” firefighter Scott Craig said.

Craig has been working for the Kent Fire Department for five years. He is a third-generation firefighter. Both his grandfather and father were firefighters before him.

“I was made to do this,” he said.

Craig works with John Korzenko and Jason Peters on a “24 hour on, 48 hour off” shift.

Korzenko says he fell into the job. A firefighter friend encouraged him to attend firehouse meetings, and he stuck with it.

“It was the allure of the job, the challenge,” he said. “You’re not punching a time clock, and every day is different.”

Peters was also introduced to the firehouse by his family and considers the other firefighters his second family.

“We’re like brothers here,” he said.

The bond between the firemen is obvious. They are constantly joking and having a good time with one another, taking part in various “hijinks,” Craig said. Temporarily locking one another in various supply closets is a common activity in the firehouse.

“We have a sick sense of humor,” Craig said.

But when a call comes in, the games are over, and the work begins.

“When it’s time to go to work, it’s time for business,” Korzenko said.

With the things they see on a daily basis, they said it’s hard not to let it bother them.

“You have to have thick skin,” Korsenko said.

“You have to realize you can only do so much,” Peters added. “It’s not that we don’t care, but you’d go crazy if you focused on the bad.”

Even though the job is demanding, Peters, Korzenko and Craig – along with other Kent firefighters – manage to have a life outside of the firehouse. They date and go out with friends.

“We’re just normal people,” Korzenko said.

“We’re a pretty good time,” Craig added.

Contact public affairs reporter Christina Anthony at [email protected].