Hibbing Fire Department Makes Longtime Fan's Dream Come True

By KBJR News 1

October 10, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 1:11 PM CDT

Hibbing, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - The Hibbing Fire Department has its fair share of supporters, but none like Harold Koenig.

"I just stand by, see if they need me. Sometimes I call," said Koenig.

The Department says Harold has been by their side for years, giving them immeasurable support. They returned the favor Saturday when they made Koenig an Honorary Hibbing Firefighter.

"Yeah it was a big surprise. I didn't know they were going to do it," said Koenig.

"We felt as a department that the least we could do was give him a helmet," said Battalion Chief, Erik Jankila.

For more years than some can remember, Harold has been listening in on his scanner, meeting the department at any call he can, not letting his disability get in the way of his firefighting dream.

"Help people with stuff, help everybody," said Koenig of why he wants to be a firefighter.

"I've been here 17-plus years and he's been to every open house during my career," said Jankila, "Everybody knows Harold."

"There was Harold, [at] one of my first parades, and he [was] in a firefighter shirt and hat and I thought maybe he was a new member and they said, 'No. That's Harold,'" said Captain Matt Ashmore.

Harold's new status as Honorary Hibbing Firefighter made official what the department has known for years.

"He's always smiling, every time you see him. He's always in a great mood and that's the type of person you want to be an honorary firefighter for your department," said Ashmore.

Koenig was presented with a certificate and a helmet with his name on it during the Fire Department's open house Saturday.

"Firefighter. Harold. Hibbing," Koenig read off his new helmet.

"It'd be tough to imagine him not around," said Ashmore.

Fire Department members furthered Koenig's dream Tuesday by giving him his first ride in a fire truck.

"I like it," said Koenig of riding in the fire truck.

Members of the department say that Harold listens so intently to his scanner that when calls are made in his neighborhood, he sometimes gets there before they do.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.