Posts Tagged Aurora Fire Marshal Gary Krienitz

New fire chief in Aurora (more)

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When Gary Krienitz was a young firefighter, he was assigned to the engine company headed by John Lehman.

Lehman, Aurora’s fire chief, said he remembered a fire where he and the young, aggressive firefighter were on the hose together, arguing over who would handle the nozzle and put the fire out. Lehman recalled the story Wednesday as he retired as fire chief, and Krienitz, who has been the city’s fire marshal, was sworn in as the 17th chief in fire department history.

Lehman is retiring after almost 29 years, having started in Aurora as a firefighter/paramedic in 1987 and working his way up the ranks. He remembered some of his key moments through the years, including the Plainfield tornado in 1991, the Aurora Flood of 1996, the medical helicopter crash that claimed four lives in 2008, and a May 2011 house fire that resulted in six deaths, the worst in Aurora history.

The Flood of 1996 provided a specific memory of a 3 a.m. call, with water about to come in the front door of his house and about six to eight feet of water in his basement. His wife, Becky, was awake with two babies.

Krienitz read some of the many notes the department received from the community over the years praising Lehman, and recalled a situation where Lehman had to assist amputating someone’s arm to extract them from a bad car accident. He said it exemplified Lehman’s willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty at all times.

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New fire chief in Aurora (more)

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Aurora Fire Marshal Gary Krienitz will take office as the city’s new fire chief Feb. 20,  after the city council unanimously approved his appointment as chief, to succeed John Lehman when he retires Feb. 19.

Krienitz, 43, will become the 17th fire chief of the Aurora Fire Department. In accepting the appointment, Krienitz told the City Council this week that he wanted to acknowledge the 16 fire chiefs who served the Aurora Fire Department before him.

Serving in the Aurora Fire Department for 19 years, Krienitz began as a paramedic before being promoted to lieutenant and then captain. In April 2015, he was appointed as Aurora’s fire marshal.

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Testament to Aurora firefighters teaching fire safety in the schools

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Five-year-old Gracie White of Aurora was almost asleep in her mother’s bed last month when she heard the shouts. There was a fire, and it wasn’t a drill. Gracie’s mother, quickly rounded up her two sleeping sons, ages 1 and 2. Then, she turned to her daughter and said “OK Gracie, there’s a fire. We’ve got to go.”  And swiftly, the preschooler sprung into action. Gracie got up in her pajamas and walked barefoot next door, clutching her favorite stuffed bear.

“She didn’t cry. She didn’t say a word,” her mother said. “She just told me to call 911 and calmly walked next door” to her grandparents’ front porch, which was the family’s designated meeting spot following an emergency. It was a plan they had put together and practiced when several Aurora firefighters visited Gracie’s school, to teach about fire safety during Fire Prevention Month.

“Me, personally, it just brings a huge smile to my face,” Aurora Fire Department Lt. Jim Rhodes said of Gracie’s actions during the Nov. 20 fire at her home in the 700 block of Donna Avenue. “It’s the perfect testament of why we do what we do. It actually makes a difference.”

Every October, fire companies throughout Aurora visit preschools and elementary classrooms to teach about important drills like EDITH – Exit Drills in the Home. The program encourages students to practice home fire drills and designate a meeting place for family members outside the home. This is the tool Gracie used that November night.

Rhodes said kids as young as 2 years old can learn drills like Stop Drop and Roll, Get Low and Go, and EDITH. They can also be taught to stay away from lighters, candles, and the kitchen.

Gracie’s class was one of hundreds visited by Aurora firefighters in October. This year, the department conducted 383 school programs, reaching 9,132 students. He said each one of those students now has the potential and knowledge to act safely in the face of a fire. Gracie White is proof.

Shortly after the fire at the White home, Aurora Fire Marshal Gary Krienitz received a call from Gracie’s teacher thanking the crew of Engine Company 9 for doing an outstanding job during their school program, and for their work in teaching Gracie.

“Many people believe that nothing bad, such as their house catching on fire, will ever happen to them,” Rhodes said. ” However, this is not the case. It can happen to anyone.”

thans Dan

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