Friday, January 6, 2012 - 4:45am
The second of three generations of Knudtson firefighters retires today after 31 years with the City of Madison Fire Department.
Assistant Chief Gregg Knudtson joined the Department on January 4, 1981. His father Donald was a Shift Commander at the time, equivalent to today's Division Chief. In 2004, Chief Knudtson's son Andy became the third generation of Knudtsons to join the MFD.
Chief Knudtson is a Madison native, a graduate of East High School and MATC. As the son of a firefighter, he made a decision early on to become part of the fire service.
He maintains a balanced view of the work. "The worst days are the fatalities," Knudtson says. "Any fatality sticks with you forever."
The best days, he says, are the calls where you make a positive difference. "Bringing someone back, watching them leave the hospital; those are ‘day-makers,'" Knudtson said.
Knudtson remembers the bigger fires. He worked the legendary Butter Fire of May, 1991. "That was a campaign more than a fire," he said.
"In the end, Knudtson says it's about the people, "the people you work with and those you serve.
"It's a rewarding job; you get out what you put in. Sometimes there's not a lot of choice, but you're called to serve. When it goes well, it's rewarding."
In 31 years, Knudtson has seen a lot of changes, from open cabs and riding the tailboard to today's technologically advanced equipment.
But he says one of the changes making a big difference is the systemic approach of the Department. "It's suppression, it's code enforcement, and prevention education," he says. "It's the whole package.
A reception will be held at Station #1, 316 West Dayton, this afternoon from 1-4 p.m.
- Lori Wirth(608) 266-5947