DHI Media Correspondent
CONVOY — After serving on the Convoy Volunteer Fire Department for 31 years, Gary Kreischer reached the top of the ladder on July 1, 2013, when he officially became that community’s fire chief, succeeding Don Wilson, who had retired. Prior to that, Kreischer had served as captain of the department for 20 years. He actually joined the department in December of 1981, three years after his graduation from Crestview High School. Aside from his family and core values, it’s a side of him that has been his heart and soul during all of his adult years.
“I grew up in the area; I didn’t pay much attention to the fire department during my high school days. Oh, I saw the trucks go from time to time,” said Kreischer. “I got married and moved to Van Wert. Then we moved back to Convoy.
“I was approached to join the fire department. At the time I thought that if there was a fire, I could go out and put it out and then go home. Since I was from Convoy, I decided to jump in and held.”
These days, Kreischer thanks, Connie, a 1979 Lincolnview grad for all of the patience and understanding she has had over the years for his job. In addition, many times she was left at home with four children while he was out putting out fires.
Kreischer first trained as an EMT technician. However, when he joined the EMS, he was asked to be a volunteer firefighter as well. “It has its ups and downs, but this is all so rewarding to me,” noted Kreischer.
“The roughest part of the job is when you have to go out to the scene of someone you know personally, maybe even a close friend, family or something involving children,” continued Kreischer. “It takes a lot of applied mental toughness at that time. It can really get to you. When it is over with and you go back to the station, it really hits you.”
Kreischer said that one of the most difficult times of all-time was when there was a house fire that took the lives of two children.
“We had our young children, too, at the time,” observed Kreischer. “That situation was extremely difficult.
“The toughest part of our lives is our connection with the community,” continued Kreischer. “We know about everybody in town. Chances are when you go to someone in town, it is someone that you know. It takes a special person to volunteer to be a firefighter or EMT in a small community like this.”
Kreischer said that his initial areas of learning included equipment, apparatus, trucks and other necessities of learning. He noted that a person such as himself starts at the bottom of the ladder and gradually climbs with experience and knowledge each year. Finally, he was appointed lieutenant and then captain after 12 years of service.
Kreischer said that one of his biggest rewards is saving lives or those seriously injured. He referred to a situation where a call had come from a mother who had frantically gotten her child out of water. When the squad arrived, he was alive and they were able to save his life.
“That’s as rewarding as it gets,” said Kreischer. “If you want to be part of a small community, this is one of the most rewarding jobs to do. You have your ups and down, especially in those times when things don’t quite turn out like you’ve hoped, but it certainly has its rewards.”
One of the drawbacks, Kreischer said, is missing many special family outings, but he is thankful that he has a very understanding family.
“You do all that you can to keep your fire department people safe, you want to save lives and do all that you can do to protect situations,” said Kreischer.