St. Anne Couple Markets New Firefighters’ Aid


David and Tiffany Kruse, of St. Anne, are offering as they explain the evolution of an idea. It’s a brainstorm that might become one of the firefighting industry’s most unexpected success stories, reports

“I first had this idea back in 2011, but I thought it was just a pipe dream,” David said. He was referring to his plan for a specially-designed strap that would allow firefighters to carry extra air tanks as they entered a smokey building. Under physical stress, a single tank will last only 12 to 17 minutes. Having a handy spare, while keeping the firefighters’ hands free, could be the difference between life and death.

“I read the report of that fire captain in North Carolina. He died in a fire in a five-story medical building,” he said. “The smoke got heavy on the third floor. They had to get to the fifth floor. He ran out of air.”

After two prototypes, the Kruses found a concept they could market. They started the expensive process to obtain a patent, and began the painfully sluggish journey to firehouse acceptance.

“The slowness discourages him,” Tiffany said. “In some cases we have to get approved vendor status, and that takes time. In other cases things can move faster than we imagine.”

For example, the Chicago Fire Department has yet to approve purchases of what has been labeled the Krusepak. Meanwhile, on the set of Chicago Fire, the new gear has made its way into three episodes, with a fourth coming out in May.

“They were even going to use the name, Krusepak, in the script,” Tiffany added. “But there’s a character on the show named ‘Cruz,’ so they thought it might be confusing.”

Maybe the TV appearance sparked extra interest, but the Kruses are getting calls now from as far away as Japan. Departments — including those in Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles County — are checking out demo units. Several area departments and South Suburban stations are already using the Krusepaks, including Kankakee City, where David has worked for the past 13 years.

“I’m working full time there, and I have some shifts in Monee,” said David, 37. “So, I see the family just about every day, but I don’t have a lot of time to get out and market this.”

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