New Dalton fire truck dedicated to late firefighter

By Heather Bellow, The Berkshire Eagle DALTON — The granddaughter of the only Dalton firefighter to die in the line of duty said she knew he was happy with the way he went. “He stepped off the firetruck, and he was happy because he died with his boots on,” said Barbara Wilson, 80, of her grandfather Arthur “Pop” Krum. “He loved being a fireman.”

Krum, who was 70 when he had a heart attack after fighting a High Street fire in 1949, was honored Sunday morning during the dedication of a new rescue pumper in his name. And another firefighter, Dennis Tinker, was given a medal of valor for rescuing a woman in her sinking car after she crashed it into the Housatonic River last month. As the sun brightened over the Dalton Fire Station, firefighters and their families celebrated the love of duty of Tinker, and Krum, a “brother and hero,” as Fire Chief Gerald Cahalan, Jr. said.

Cahalan read from a 1949 statement from former Fire Chief Norman Howe, in which Howe honored Krum as “an outstanding fireman” who had been called “by the Supreme Chief of the Universe,” for his work protecting lives and property. “Greater Love than this, no man hath, that he lay down his life for his friends,” Howe had written. The Rev.

Christopher Malatesta of St. Agnes Parish blessed the new, £633,000 pumper truck, which will put the 30-year-old former Engine 1 into reserve, said Assistant Fire Chief Christopher Cachat, as he explained all its bells and whistles. Cachat also noted that heart attacks are a leading cause of on-duty deaths in firefighters.

And Cahalan honored Tinker, 36, who had pulled an 81-year-old woman out of her car as it began sinking in the river.

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“The car would have been overcome [with water] had it stayed in the river for more than a minute,” Cahalan said. Tinker told The Eagle that he happened to see a commotion off Route 8 as he was driving home from his Maine vacation with his wife Melissa King and their 3-year-old son. The pager went off, and the 6-foot-6-inch-tall firefighter next found himself chest deep in the Housatonic River with someone else who was also trying to help.

“The water was chest high on her,” he said of Eileen Murphy, who was eventually treated at the hospital and released after she plunged into the river while loosing control as she tried to make a U-turn. Police since have recommended the Pittsfield woman’s driver’s license be revoked. Tinker managed to open the door and pull her out backward, then raised her up the bank to the other responders that had arrived.

All this everyday heroism is all done with love by regular people like her grandfather, said Wilson, who was 10 when Krum died. She remembered her grandfather making tree swings for his grandchildren and giving them rides on the back of his lawnmower. He lived next door.

“He just did things that grandpas do,” she said. Wilson’s own father was also a firefighter, and he tried to go to fire that May night in 1949 so Krum wouldn’t have to, given his age. “But [Krum] heard him in his gear and went,” she said. “You have to love it to go out at 70 years old in the nighttime.”

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871

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