Fire inspector: 'It's been a wonderful, wonderful job'
You’d think a job that requires you to inspect people’s property and tell them what they need to do to comply with regulations would be stressful.
But it wasn’t for Dave Krupich, who is retiring next Wednesday after more than 16 years as Hudson’s fire inspector and compliance officer.
“It’s been a wonderful, wonderful job,” the jovial, soon to be 66-year-old said in an interview in his third-floor office at City Hall last Friday.
“What I love the most about this job is the people. The citizens, the business community, have just been wonderful,” he said. “The key is, once you explain what the problem is –- why you need that fire extinguisher or why you need that sprinkler system –- the light bulb goes on for the property owners. It’ like, yep, we’ll do it.”
Former Hudson mayor Jack Breault invited Krupich to apply for the fire inspector position after Krupich noticed a posting for the job during a visit to City Hall nearly 17 years ago.
Krupich was an insurance inspector at the time, with a territory that included Hudson and western Wisconsin. He occasionally came to Hudson City Hall to look at records.
He noticed that the Hudson Fire Department was looking for someone to do the same type of inspections that he had been doing for insurance companies for 20 years. He mentioned it to Breault, and the mayor told him to send a resume.
“So I did, and lo and behold they hired me, and I’ve been here ever since,” Krupich said with a grin and a chuckle. “I sold the Police and Fire Commission, and the council, and here I came.”
His job was to inspect all of the commercial, manufacturing and public buildings in the Hudson fire district, as well as residential buildings of four units or larger.
He looked for violations of the state fire prevention code (Chapter SPS 314 of the Wisconsin Statutes) and informed building owners of what they needed to do to come into compliance.
Krupich also was the city of Hudson’s compliance officer, charged with investigating reported violations of city ordinances and getting them corrected.
That work did sometimes make him unpopular with a few people, he admitted.
“I always said I didn’t care who you were … you’re going to be treated the same as anybody. You have to be fair and consistent across the board … or you lose your credibility,” he said of his approach to the job.
Most people don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong, Krupich said, and when they’re told about it, they fix the problem.
“I think I’ve been to court a couple, three times in all my years of doing compliance work,” he said. And he hasn’t had to write that many citations, either, he added.
“I would say I had a 95 percent completion ratio,” he reported.
Krupich resides in Woodbury, Minn., where his wife, Sally, a retired St. Paul schoolteacher, has had the house to herself during the day for the past 10 years.
“Now I’m going to be underfoot,” he said with another big smile.
Sally has a honey-do list for him to work on, and he’ll do some volunteering with the Handy Angels men’s group at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Woodbury.
Krupich is a 35-year member of the St. Paul Police Reserves and has been told they have work for him to do, too.
“There will be enough things to keep me going, keep me out of mischief,” he said.
Krupich and his wife plan to winter in Naples, Fla., where her father has a home.
Their son, Mike, is getting married on Saturday, making this a memorable week for the family. Mike is a buyer for Ecolab.
They also have a daughter, Betsy, who has a cognitive disorder and lives in a group home.
An open house to celebrate Krupich’s retirement will be held at the Hudson Fire Station on Walnut Street on Thursday, May 8, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. All are invited to stop by and wish him good luck in his new adventures.