Congratulations to Firefighter Andrew Kutz on his retirement after more than 26 years of service
Andrew Kutz was hired in April of 1994. After completing the fire academy, Kutz was assigned to the B platoon as a Jumper Firefighter. Over the next 14 years, Andrew would work in various positions in the department with the platoon. In November of 2010, FF Kutz was assigned to Tower 1 on the B first as the firefighter/bucketman and then the driver in February of 2018. Andrew also served in various positions with the Reading Firefighters Local 1803 for 24 years.
We asked Andrew if he would answer a few questions regarding the department and his experiences. This is what he had to say:
Was there anything Apparatus/Tools/Equipment-wise during your career that you felt had a special need, operated quirky, or you felt was a potential problem?
Oh, everything always worked as expected, nothing quirky with firemen tools. Navy nozzle on our trash lines always felt like old school technology, surely in 2020 someone makes nozzles with multiple attachments. The International E14 becoming Brush 3 was an accident waiting to happen, it was badly top-heavy for macadam, let alone fire trails.
Tell us about any calls, incidents, or experiences that offer a lesson learned for other firefighters (especially new ones).
Fatal incidents are the worst, unfortunately, B Platoon was plagued with fatal fires during my career. We had numerous multiple fatal fires involving kids, 500 Maple was a sight I wasn't prepared for. As firemen, we are expected to be the toughest of the tough, but I can attest, it catches up with you mentally, long term PTSD. My advice to new firefighters, talk to someone after every critical incident.
Can you name something from the department that you feel we have lost over the years that might be good to bring back or recall?
I hated to see the St Patrick Day parties go. It was not only a good release for our guys but our families, friends, cops, dispatchers, nurses. The Brotherhood in the RFD has had low morale since Act 47, it was definitely a union-busting TOOL by the state. New members may be surprised we had a Local softball team, street hockey team, ice hockey team, bowling league, St Patty's Bash, Halloween Bash, PG Trip, RFD Cruise, summer picnics with shifts, NYC Trips, and guys actually hung out together. Love to see City of Reading residents get preference in hiring.
Can you write one thing that you feel would be helpful to pass on to new firefighters that could help them stay healthy and safe throughout their careers?
My advice to all new RFD firefighters, treat this job as a professional athlete. Hit the gym with special attention to your knees, do cardio until you breathe through your nose an entire incident. Watch your weight, no secret we eat well at the firehouse, do you order 2 meals at a restaurant, 1 meal is plenty of fat body, and make sure that the meal is healthy. See what professional athletes eat to get peak performance from their bodies. Don't forget to take care of your mind. Stay active on and off the job. Know your role, learn the basics inside out before venturing into specialty work. Stay active with Local 1803, go to meetings, events, and know your contract, policies, and procedures.
May God Bless the RFD & Local 1803
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