Burton Fire District firefighter Rick Krob is on a mission to help make one of the world's most dangerous professions a little safer.
The former Marine and Iowa native was honored this month with the S.C. Society of Fire Service Instructors' Adjunct Fire Instructor of the Year award for his work training firefighters in Burton and across the state.
"I like changing attitudes," said Krob, 46. "I like teaching people to be safer. I hate to be dramatic, but 100 firefighters die every year. I want to make a difference in that number and if I can change the way one firefighter thinks about how he does his job then that's one less firefighter who might die (on the job)."
Krob's colleagues say the award is long overdue.
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"It's about time," said Capt. Debora Lewis, Krob's shift commander. "He's such a great asset, not only to the state's fire service but to our department. What he brings to the table is priceless. He's so passionate about what he does and that's something these guys carry with them the rest of their lives."
As part of his job, Krob spends weeks at a time traveling across the state, teaching special rescue techniques and training future fire instructors. The S.C. Fire Academy relies on a legion of state-certified adjunct instructors, such as Krob, to teach firefighter safety programs statewide.
"It's nice to be recognized for the things you do but, for me, the real satisfaction comes from working with the students," Krob said. "When you can see that you've changed a student's way of thinking about their job, that's what it's about for me."
After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1989, Krob spent seven years as a city of Beaufort firefighter before joining the Burton Fire District in 1996.
"The Marine Corps brought me to Beaufort, the fire service kept me here," he said.
Since joining the department, Krob's passion for training and expertise in navigating difficult rescue situations have proved invaluable, Burton Fire Chief Henry Rountree said.
"We think a lot of Rick," Rountree said. "There's not a knot he can't tie and if there was someone hanging off a water tower, I know Rick could rescue them safely and quickly. We think he's capable of just about anything."