St. MICHAEL – Gene Krupa joined Adams Township Volunteer Fire Company’s St. Michael station in 1970.
Krupa, 80, is currently fire captain, trustee and financial secretary responsible for paying all the bills.
What else does he do?
“The honest to God’s truth?” he said. “I wash dishes and prepare fish and cabbage at the fish fries.”
Krupa said he joined the fire company one day at the urging of a neighbor.
“One of my neighbors said ‘hey there’s Gene Krupa, he’d make a good whatever,’ ” he recalled. “He stayed on for a few years, and I’m still here.”
The fire station has had a troubled history.
“The place was going to hell,” Krupa said. “We didn’t have money. There were only six or eight members.”
Things have changed, he said.
“It’s seems, right now, we have an influx of young people taking an interest in the fire company,” Krupa said.
Today, the St. Michael station is home to about 30 active members and six junior members.
The fire station, which is located at 849 Locust St., houses two squad trucks, two pumper trucks, one heavy rescue vehicle, one command unit vehicle and one utility vehicle, fire Chief Paul Kundrod said.
Krupa’s many years of dedicated service brings stability to the fire company, Kundrod said.
“Volunteers come and go,” he said. “You need consistency to keep going in the right direction. Gene is a good, consistent performer.”
Krupa was the fire company’s top volunteer in 2017.
“He made more calls than any other volunteer,” Kundrod said. “Gene still responds to calls, whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m.”
Krupa brushed aside the praise.
“It’s not me,” he said. “It’s what we can do for the township.”
The fire department also has a station in Dunlo. Keeping both stations operating means many hours raising money.
“It’s not just us, it’s every fire company,” Krupa said. “We’re busting our tails doing fundraisers.”
Krupa said volunteer firefighters need many hours of training. Not so when he started.
“When I first joined we had local fire schools,” he said. “Now the state is telling you you have to do this and you have to do that.
“It’s hard for the guys who have jobs and families to make that sacrifice,” Krupa said. “If you don’t make the sacrifice, fire companies will all go down the toilet.”
Krupa said he has no plans to retire from the fire company.
“I’ll stay as long as I can,” he said. “Probably another 80 years.”
Krupa was employed for 44 years by Dick’s Automotive in Johnstown. He has two grown children.