The firehouse: Piece by piece

Christina Anthony

Each day holds something new for Kent firefighters in a department that averages about 10 calls a day.

One of the fire trucks sits with the other dozen in the Kent Fire Department garage yesterday. Sam Twarek | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

“You get here and you never know what you’ll be doing,” firefighter John Korzenko said.

The Kent Fire Department employs 33 full-time firefighter/paramedics and one on-call firefighter. These people are responsible not only for fighting fires, but also for different types of rescue, from underwater to fire.

These rescue workers are stationed between two firehouses. The main house is located at 320 S. Depeyster St. Station two is on North Mantua Street.

The firefighters don’t work the typical 9-to-5. They work a schedule of 24 hours on, 24 hours on call and 24 hours off. During that time, calls can range from a car accident to a transport service for a resident who needs to go to the doctor.

Men in Uniform

Dark blue pants and shirt, black socks and shoes — that is the uniform the men wear into work. Currently, Kent employs no female firefighters.

When a call comes in, they have about 30 seconds to change into the traditional boots, heavy pants and jacket, and their helmets and masks. There is not time to buckle every buckle or snap every snap on their suits, so they often finish dressing on the way, fighting to get themselves together under the seat belt of the truck.

“We try to get fully dressed by the time we get to where we need to be,” firefighter Brad McDougal said.

The Trucks

The trucks aren’t red.

The fire department changed their truck color from red to yellow during the 70s like many other stations, McDougal said. Then other departments changed the trucks back to red and the Kent fire department didn’t.

Between the two stations, they have 15 trucks under a roof, including four ambulances and two fire engines.

“The trucks are like tools in a toolbox,” Capt. Dave Manthey said. “Each one has a different job to do.”

Most of the trucks are used for exactly what they sound like they would be used for. The Heavy Rescue truck is used in any situation where you might need any kind of rescue. The Grass Fire truck is used for grass fires, and the Scuba truck is used for scuba diving rescue.

Other trucks, like the Telesquirt, are harder to guess what they do.

The Telesquirt is a truck with a 65-foot ladder and a hose at the end. This truck is used for fires higher than ground level, McDougal explained. The tower is a truck with a 100-foot ladder used for rescue up to the tenth floor of a building.

Three trucks are inside the firehouse, but don’t exclusively belong to Kent.

McDougal parks his black SWAT vehicle inside when he comes in off-duty.

There are also two hazardous materials trucks inside because the department works with Northeastern Hazardous Materials Management.


Hydrants “are like branches on a little tree,” Manthey explained. They are positioned along a water main regardless of whether there are buildings nearby.

“It may be a parking lot now, but it might be the site of a housing development later,” Manthey said.

What if the hydrant is too far from the fire?

The trucks are supplied with about 1,000 feet of supply hose to move the water closer to the fire, Manthey said. If the fire is still too far, each truck could fill itself at the hydrant and then drive closer to the fire. There is also enough hose to relay the water from the hydrant to another truck or a series of trucks to the fire.

Three sizes of hose are used in conjunction with the hydrants. The largest hose connects the hydrant to the truck, McDougal said. The small hose is for small fires and the medium hose is for larger fires. After each use, the hose must be cleaned and dried for its next use.

Not Fighting a Fire

When not out on a call, the firefighters still have work to do.

“We do chores — we clean, we mop,” Lt. Patrick Edwards said while chopping rosemary for chief engineer Steve Smith’s belated birthday celebration.

“We need to check the trucks and make sure they have gas, the air tanks are full and the equipment is working,” he added.

They are constantly training, practicing rescue techniques and doing drills. Every person has a certain number of training hours to complete with hazardous materials and paramedic practices, according to McDougal.

The firefighters also watch TV, sleep and work out in the gym.

“You’re always tired.” Craig said.

“But to save a life, it’s all worth it to me,” he added later.

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