Lineboro fire chief finds work close to home Lifelong resident loves his town NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

January 13, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

"Anybody know about these rubber bands?" Lineboro Fire Chief John L. Krebs IV yelled down from the second floor after finding rubber bands on the stairs of the firehouse.

From somewhere below, a plaintive voice replied, "No."

"They know my rules about shooting rubber bands," he said. "Must have dropped out of an envelope, perhaps."

So much for a little on-the-job frivolity that may or may not have been used to break up the monotony of a shift in the firehouse.

John Krebs recognizes the monotony, but he takes safety seriously. The place where he has been chief since 1981 is a firehouse, not a funhouse.

Kevin Dickmeyer, a longtime volunteer, says, "John Krebs is an outstanding fireman and chief." In terms of seniority, Chief Krebs has held the job the third-longest in the history of the company.

There are probably those in Lineboro, a tightly knit hamlet of perhaps 500 souls just south of the Mason-Dixon Line, who remember the little boy who wanted nothing more than to be a firefighter when he grew up.

Chief Krebs is Lineboro-bred, with family roots that go deep into the town's past; his great-grandfather, Frederick Kopp, founded Kopp's Lumber, while his paternal grandfather developed Cascade Lake over in Snydersburg.

He lives in his grandfather's house, right next door to the firehouse on Main Street. His mother operates Dolly's Beauty Salon in the town; his late father was once a member of the fire company; Becky, his wife of three years, grew up there. "I've known her from the time she was a kid," he says.

Chief Krebs, 37, attended Manchester Elementary School and graduated from North Carroll High. He has been employed as a driver for Kopp's Lumber since 1972. Becky, 28, is a registered nurse at York Hospital. They're expecting their first child in May.

Life in an out-of-the way corner of Maryland is just the way Chief Krebs likes it. "I never wanted to leave here," he says as he removes his hat. "It's the quietness here that I like. There's no hustle and bustle."

But when the pager and siren go off, and the tranquillity of the rural life is disturbed, he puts down his fork or climbs out of bed and is ready to roll out of the station within the designated five minutes. This has earned him the distinction of being the top responder in the Lineboro company for nine out of the past 10 years.

Interest in the company remains high, with nearly 200 members on the membership rolls.

"We've had a good influx of new members this year. In fact, we have some members from across the Pennsylvania line and as far away as Hampstead," he says.

This explains why the company's logo is composed of the Maryland and Pennsylvania flags with the motto: "Protectors of the Mason Dixon."

He is particularly proud of the three new women in the department.

"I'm really pleased with them," he says. "They go out on fires, haul hose and are qualified just like the guys."

One of his biggest responsibilities is to maintain a vigorous training schedule.

According to Chief Krebs, good training keeps down injuries.

"The federal government and the state set guidelines that we must meet, and there are new things such as dealing with hazardous materials and blood-borne viruses that the volunteers have to know about," he says.

"We've always been a progressive department and have been on top regarding new technology," he boasts.

"We were the first in the county to have a mobile air unit and use large-diameter, 5-inch fire hose."

Since there are no hydrants in the town, all water to fight fires must be pumped from ponds designated for fire use. They have to lay their own water main when battling fires, he says.

"It takes a lot," he says, "and the the people here are really dedicated. If it weren't for the Kopp's [lumber yard], Wertze Farm Equipment or Warner's feed mill letting their people off to answer fire calls, there wouldn't be a fire company here."

Is he concerned that the arrival of the baby may change things?

"Maybe we'll have a little girl that will grow up and become a female fire chief," he proudly says.

If it's a boy, he's certain that the lad will follow in his dad's footsteps.

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