When the alarms sound, a family of 4 goes to fight the fires together | Pennsylvania News
By KAYLA DWYER, The Morning Call (Allentown)
BREINIGSVILLE, Pa. (AP) –
One Tuesday evening in March, Mark and Candi Krause and their daughters, McKenah Wehr and Aubree Romig, had just finished making hot dogs and putting plates on the table at their Upper Macungie Township home. At 5:13 p.m., their phones rang with a call to 911: an investigation into the smoke on Haasadahl Road.
Less than 10 minutes later, the call turned into a fire all over the house.
âThis is the ultimate time for a fire call,â Mark Krause said recently. “Every time you sit down for dinner …”
âHere are the tones,â McKenah rang.
He ripped off his keys and ran for the door. Candi opened the fridge to grab some mustard and ketchup, wrapped the hot dogs in a paper towel, stuffed everything into a lunchbox, and grabbed the bag of buns.
She and McKenah, 19, attended the scene together with their helmets, vests and wands to control traffic as firefighters. Aubree, 15, has teamed up to take photos for the resort’s social media. Mark, the fire engineer, would meet them there, driving the fire truck.
About four hours later, they ate cold hot dogs together in the fire engine.
It was McKenah’s first fire call, completing a family unit fighting fires together at the Upper Macungie 56 Fire Station.
âUsually you see yourself as a father and a son or a father and a daughter,â Station 56 chief Matt Sadrovitz said. “I have never in my experience seen the whole family in its entirety.”
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. The fight against arson, where tradition is well established, has long been a place for families. But as volunteers dwindle, there aren’t many families like the Krause.
“It’s very rare now,” said Doug Gernerd, fourth-generation firefighter and chief of the nearby Fogelsville station. âIt’s a long tradition that has disappeared. “
Mark Krause joined Fogelsville Station, another of the township’s three stations, as a high school student in 1991, following in his older brother’s footsteps. Candi was married to another firefighter before she started dating Mark in 2008.
“Do you know how they say every girl has a type?” ” she said. âI definitely fell into this category. “
Mark left firefighting to help Candi raise her daughters. A decade later, life began to calm down. The girls were in high school. Mark volunteered again in 2020. Candi has always been the Fire Woman, but a few months after Mark returned, Candi felt the virus.
âIt really is a brotherhood. It’s an extension of your family, âshe said. âI just thought it was my turn.
Fighting the fires wasn’t for her – she took the test and threw up in her mask. Instead, she became a volunteer with the Fire Department – the person who closes an intersection to keep cars and people away from a scene.
Aubree’s biological father was also a firefighter. Seeing his parents commit again makes him want to.
âI kind of had a feeling I was going to do it,â she said.
At 15, Aubree isn’t even old enough for the station’s junior firefighter program. But these days, with the number of volunteers approaching crisis level, fire chiefs are not inclined to turn anyone away.
âSince the Commonwealth is so dependent on volunteer firefighters, age is not the limiting factor many might think,â said Paul Vezzetti, spokesperson for the State Fire Marshal’s Office. âThere are many ways to serve.
Sadrovitz decided she could take photos of the station, fire scenes and community events to document on social media, and take on projects around the station. She has her own protective gear, he said, “so she can feel like part of the team.”
Then McKenah started to feel left out.
âThey were always talking about what they were doing, the people they were talking to, the characters at the station,â she said. âIt just sounded interesting and fun, and I was like, why not give it a try? “
Not eager to run through burning buildings, she took her 16-hour course in March to become a firefighter, like her mother.
During the day, Candi and Mark work for New Enterprise Stone and Lime; Candi as an office administrator in the heavy highway construction department and Mark as a heavy equipment operator on the quarry side. Their employer allows them to clock in for fire calls. McKenah spends three nights a week at the Beauty Institute in Allentown.
They never know what a call can interrupt at home.
This summer the family was about to go out one evening. McKenah even wore a sundress and fancy sandals. But they got a call for a car crash with rescue, so Candi and McKenah put bright yellow vests over their nice clothes and walked out the door.
The chef said to McKenah, “Well, you get the best dressed prize.”
In a township with many warehouses and distribution centers, there are many commercial structure fire calls. The vast majority are accidental fire alarms.
âYet we have to live in the state of mindâ¦ You have to be fully prepared to have a blazing fire,â Candi said.
There is also a lighter side to this job. Mark and Candi chair the Community Outreach Committee, which organizes neighborhood events, fundraisers, and blood drives. The Family Spends Holidays on the Fire Truck: Rides around and distributes candy on Halloween, eggs for Easter, and chocolate on Christmas with Santa Claus on a wooden sleigh towed by a utility truck.
Last August, instead of the traditional national night, fire stations paraded their trucks through the township with lights and sirens, as residents stood on the sidewalks to applaud with signs thanking them for their service. . As Candi and Aubree pulled up to a fire, they saw a little girl holding a poster that said she wanted to be a firefighter when she grew up.
Candi screamed out the window, telling her to never let anyone tell her that she can’t because it’s a girl.
âWe are girls and we are in the team! yelled Candi.
The girl’s eyes lit up and she screamed, âI can be a firefighter!
The Krause family – that’s what everyone calls them, despite other last names – was very close together before they volunteered together. Candi, the “schemer,” always finds some sort of activity for them, whether it’s a barbecue festival or a concert.
âSome of the other guys come here to get away from the rest of their family,â Mark laughs. But not him.
He and Candi’s families have been here for generations. McKenah and Aubree are already arguing over who will inherit their grandmother’s house.
âEvery family has a story,â says a sign on the wall in their living room. ” Welcome to our house. Last names might not match, but hearts certainly do. “
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