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KrusePak Easily Transports Spare SCBA Bottles


The KrusePak

The KrusePak

My name is Dave Kruse. I am currently a full time Lieutenant at the Kankakee Fire Department, where I have worked for 11 years. A little over 3 years ago the Kankakee Fire Department revamped their high-rise operations and developed some new techniques to make us more proficient. We implemented a technique designed by a Battalion Chief at Denver Fire Department which entails folding hose they utilize for high-rises and wearing them off their air packs – allowing firefighters to climb stairs hands-free. It worked quite well for us.

Shortly after we began implementing this new technique, a 26 year Fire Captain in Asheville, NC died while working in a high rise fire. The report done on this incident stated that his death was partially due to running out of air on upper floors of the building. This event made me reflect and evaluate how we had changed our high-rise operations. It also led me to ponder where there was room for additional improvements in this particular area on our department. I noticed that in the past my department had struggled with getting spare equipment – particularly spare SCBA bottles – to upper floors of high-rise fires.

High-rise fires present extreme difficulties for any department, one issue being how physically taxing it is on the firefighters. Their goal is to get plenty of equipment to a staging area, which usually is located 2 floors below the floor that contains the fire. This is important because you don’t want to have to keep sending firefighters down to bring more equipment up, especially if you had a fire on the 10th, 40th, even 100th story building. You want firefighters to bring up the equipment right away to support your crews already working and to continue the operation until the incident is under control. After the Asheville, NC Captain had perished, I started to think that maybe the problem with getting spare SCBA bottles to the staging area in a reasonable time was more of a problem in the fire service then just my department. I had realized that part of the problem on our department is that firefighters are already loaded with equipment going up, including their air packs. But what happens when we run out of air? If there are no spare bottles to swap out, the crew is headed downstairs to replace them.

I then started researching reports of other major high-rise fires. I found numerous firefighters had died in these types of fires due to running out of air – something that may have been avoided with better operations in assuring extra air bottles were accessible to the fire crew.  I then begin researching for equipment that carried spare bottles and only found a few. Most of the equipment was based on a simple “rope type contraption” in which you tied to the tops of the bottles and flung over your shoulder.

My objective became clear – I needed to create a device or tool that would allow firefighters to carry additional air packs on their backs, still allowing the firefighter’s hands-free movement. I went to a local seamstress and explained exactly what my vision was, resulting in our first prototype. I took the prototype back to my department and thoroughly critiqued it with some of my fellow firefighters. Four or five prototypes later, I had developed what we now call the “KrusePak”. I felt I had simplified a problem by designing a safer and more efficient way to carry spare bottles. It was such a simple idea, I knew there had to be something similar out on the market. The further I delved, nothing came close. At this realization, my wife & I decided to attempt to patent this new piece of equipment in order to protect my idea. The KrusePak is currently patent pending.

Now that we had a piece of equipment that we felt could be useful to hundreds of fire departments across the country, my wife, Tiffany, took over and started to set up a business. As a former Realtor, she was extremely knowledgeable in business start-up methods and knew how to market a product.   Two years later, “Krusecrew”, the name of our company and homage to our family as a unit, had been established.  My wife created a website, Facebook & Twitter pages and filmed, directed and produced an amateur video presentation showing the KrusePak in use.  In only 8 months of being on YouTube, our video had over 2300 hits.

Efforts of marketing our product ourselves has resulted in us currently working with at least a dozen fire departments across the country who are training and testing our product! I am proud to say that our first sale went to Kankakee Fire Department. The hardest part of a small business is starting out without a lot of capital.  For a fireman and a homemaker, and just like everyone else in this economy, we have had to sacrifice in order to launch our product and start our business.  As of now, we are relying on word of mouth, social media, and our YouTube video to market this product. Things are moving slowly, but positive contacts have been made and we project a big year.

Through multiple contacts, the KrusePak landed in the hands of a writer of NBC’s new hit show “Chicago Fire” a few weeks ago. They loved the concept, believed it to be a beneficial and much needed piece of equipment for the fire service.  They also felt it could be utilized for a scene they were currently filming.  I received notification that the KrusePak would be utilized in a scene during episode #15 and was even written into the script – calling for the KrusePak by name.  Aside from my wife and I being filled with excitement at this amazing opportunity, it has also reaffirmed the fact that this product is vital in making the fire service better.

My wife is continuing to market and run the business aspect of this endeavor.  We take pride that we are a firefighter family run business that cares about the safety and improvement of our brothers and sisters serving others every day. We also value the opportunity we have to give back. One of our top priorities in starting this company was to manufacture our product only in America – which we have done. Also, we have pledged to give $1 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for every KrusePak we sell. We hope this will not be our last product, as we continually strive to improve the fire service to keep not only firefighters safe, but also the people we serve.

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