Ryan Kunkel, 32, has been a volunteer firefighter for 16 years, but he’s been around the Upper Allen Fire Department for as long as he can remember. He grew up watching his father, Karl Kunkel, lead the fire department and head off to emergency situations. To no one’s surprise, Ryan joined Upper Allen as a junior firefighter when he was 16 years old.
“With my dad being the fire chief through my younger years and getting to be around the fire house as a kid, it’s been so much a part of me,” said Ryan. “His dedication as well as his ability to stay calm have always stood out.”
A volunteer firefighter since 1978 — he joined shortly after high school — Karl once served as Upper Allen’s fire chief. Currently a safety officer for the department, he’s proud of his son, who is currently serving as Upper Allen’s deputy chief. Over the years, they’ve been many on calls together and have served on various committees.
“Ryan’s dedication to serve, mechanical aptitude, knowledge of building construction, willingness to learn, ability to work as part of a team and to lead others,” are all vital qualities that make him successful, Karl explained.
Both father and son cite the importance of public service, the brotherhood and camaraderie that comes with fire service, and the lessons they’ve learned over the years.
“The service to your community is extremely rewarding,” Karl said. It is fulfilling to use the skills you learn to help others in time of need.”
“Have pride in what you do and your company, train hard and be willing to learn,” Ryan said.”
When they’re not volunteering with Upper Allen, Karl works as a Logistics Management Specialist for the Department of the Navy, and Ryan is an HVAC Technician. Both enjoy learning about history and spending time with family. Father and son recently built a shed, rebuilt a deck and put a swing set together.
If you want to Step Up, Gear Up and Volunteer, visit https://capitalregionfirefighter.org/ to learn more about volunteer firefighting and the many ways you can help make a difference in your community. Fill out the inquiry form and a representative from your local Capital Region fire company will contact you and answer any questions you may have within 24-48 hours.