by LT Gabe Balsamo in General
Crew Kirst, in green, recently lost his life in a motor vehicle accident
The North Madison Volunteer Fire Company Remembers Crew Kirst
With sorrow and heavy hearts, the North Madison Volunteer Fire Company has hung purple
bunting in honor of one of its youngest department members, Crew Kirst, who lost his life in a
recent motor vehicle accident.
Crew joined the company, known as the “Nomads,” out of desire to give back to the community
and neighbors he loved. A welcomed addition to the Nomad family, Crew brought a relaxed
approach, genuineness, and positive attitude. He was light-hearted and quick on his feet with
comebacks and jokes. His ever-present sense of humor often kept his colleagues laughing,
whether when kicking back after a drill in the firehouse watch room or on dark, rainy nights
during long hours responding to burning transformers, downed wires and fallen trees.
No matter how big or small the job, Crew embraced the work and often stayed until the last
firefighter went home. He responded to structure fires and numerous other North Madison
emergencies on the worst winter days. Members recall him hooking up large diameter hose,
stretching it down the street to hook up to supply trucks, and carrying ladders and equipment
through deep snow at one February structure fire where water froze the driveway and road to ice.
At yet another recent fire, when most of the town still lacked electricity, Crew provided valuable
fire-ground manpower. Always committed to the end, he was one of the last members rolling
and packing heavy hose lines in tough snow and ice conditions, then staying on afterward at the
firehouse to powerwash, re-roll and repack the hose.
Crew’s energy, spirit, and dedication to the company and his teammates inspired everyone
around him. He sought out opportunities to learn from senior members, who in turn relied on
Crew’s knowledge of each fire apparatus and cargo–notably small gas-powered
equipment—which Crew knew well not only from his years as a junior member, but also through
his passion for motocross. In turn, he mentored younger members, who saw him as a role model
for his ability, his sense of fun, his good-natured “busting” on them, for making them feel they
belonged, and especially for his small but meaningful acts of kindness: One night after a drill
during exam week, for example, Crew drove a junior’s forgotten backpack all the way downtown
to school. Last October, another member recalls, he “saved the day” with a last-minute repair to
the burn box during the company’s open house: “His contributions were clutch!” As a former
junior describes Crew, “He was a great soul.”
Crew clearly loved his experience with the Nomads, and envisioned becoming a career
firefighter. He took his training seriously, earning the respect of fellow Nomads who found him
very knowledgeable, dependable and committed to the department and the greater community.
Crew’s unforgettable smile and many contributions to the company will remain forever in his
colleagues’ hearts. His spirit, selflessness, and joy in serving others will continue to inspire all
those who knew him.