Not only do Kevin and Colby Krough both work at National Grid, out of hours father and son both volunteer as fire fighters in their local community in New York State.
There’s that saying, ‘the family that plays together, stays together’. But, with father and grown-up son pairing Kevin and Colby Krogh, there’s a lot more togetherness than going for a drink or watching a sports match together.
Kevin, 54, joined the company back in 1986 and is a manager in the Gas Training team for the USNY East area, where he delivers training to keep colleagues compliant with the US Government’s operator qualifications.
Colby, 26, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and has been working at National Grid since 2013. As a Gas Mechanic, his role involves tasks such as installing new gas services and mains, and dealing with any gas leaks. The Krogh’s paths don’t cross at work, but Colby attends annual training that’s taught by one of his father’s instructors.
Most of us just want to put our feet up after a day at work but, in their spare time, Kevin and Colby are often found heading to their local fire station house, Eagle Matt Lee Fire Company in Ballston Spa, New York.
It all started because Kevin’s stepfather was a member of the fire company. “I saw the rewards of him doing this and I had a few friends that were in the company as well,” explains Kevin, who has now been a volunteer fire fighter there for 34 years.
Colby couldn’t wait to follow in his father’s footsteps, joining the fire station’s junior programme at 16 and then signing up fully at 18.
It’s quite a time commitment. “We’re typically scheduled for weekly drills of three hours per week,” says Kevin. “Outside of that, meetings do pop up as well and then there’s the unplanned fire calls throughout the week. Hours could be from 10 to 30+ per week.”
Colby adds: “As volunteers, we’re on call 24/7, 365 days a year and I’d say that I personally put in 15 to 20 hours a week at the fire house – it depends on how many alarms there are.”
Colby has risen through the ranks and is now Captain of the fire company and both Kroghs have been recognised with awards for their contribution over the years.
Kevin is certain his volunteering has brought new skills to his ‘day job work’ and vice versa. “My 34 years at National Grid have taught me many safety rules, driving safety skills, how to recognize and handle utility problems as well as familiarising myself safely with my surroundings on a fire scene.
“Another important skill is that, because of my career, I’m able to bring my electricity and natural gas knowledge to the fire company for education on utility safety.”
He adds that, in return, going through the ranks of Officer up to Chief Officer in the fire company has developed his leadership skills and helped him when it comes to supervising union employees and setting good examples as a leader at National Grid.
Colby too sees this two-way benefit between his day job and volunteering roles: “My work has taught me a lot about safety and how important that is, so I do bring that back to the fire house and train the guys so they can go home safely.”
In the other direction, he says his role as a fire fighter has “taught me to be a good leader and to deal with the public.”
Of course, the real reward though is saving lives and protecting property in the local community. “The best things about volunteering as a fire fighter is seeing the relief of residents when we show up and assist with whatever problem they have,” says Kevin.
But there are tough times too. “Witnessing fatalities at motor vehicle, train and pedestrian accidents, especially when it comes to children is so hard,” adds Kevin.
But the Kroghs wouldn’t hesitate to recommend becoming a volunteer fire fighter – and volunteering generally.
“The satisfaction of helping others in need makes you feel good about yourself. I love being a volunteer, with the opportunity to be a servant of my community and seeing results when we’re able to assist our residents,” says Kevin.
And Colby adds: “It’s about helping the community when they need us most.”