By Mr. Edward Tom Conning (USAREC)August 8, 2014
SEATTLE ARMY RECRUITING BATTALION, Wash. -- U.S. Army recruiters use a variety of tools and techniques when they search for people to enlist into the Army or Army Reserve. Some even find activities outside of the normal duty day to help with recruiting, including substitute teaching, volunteering as church youth mentors or joining car or motorcycle enthusiast clubs.
One recruiter out of the Olympia, Wash. Army Career Center volunteers as a firefighter to help him find quality Army Reserve enlistees. But that wasn't Sgt. 1st Class Keith Knittel's primary reason for becoming a firefighter. I became a volunteer firefighter to benefit my local community and occupy my free time with a positive activity, said Knittel. "Fire and EMT service may be a permanent fixture in my life, but for now I just enjoy the challenge and the reward that comes with service to others."
Knittel does admit that being a firefighter has helped in recruiting. "I am currently expecting a referral from a fellow firefighter whose son attends one of our tougher to penetrate schools," he said. "I am still learning how to best take advantage of the situation without overstepping my bounds."
Sgt. 1st Class Tanisha Jacobs, Olympia Army Career Center commander and Knittel's supervisor, agreed that Knittel's community support, such as firefighting, aids him as a recruiter.
"It helps because he is able to serve as a member of his community where he lives while simultaneously serving in the Army," Jacobs said. "Even though his life has been filled with challenges, he never fails to realize the important role of his contribution to the organization and community alike."
Knittel performs firefighting duties in Griffin Fire District 13, Olympia and serves with Doug Jamieson, Griffin Fire District 13 Lieutenant.
Knittel's military background gives him a different perspective and has helped him progress as a firefighter, said Jamieson. He's willing to step up to the plate, better his education and skills and shows leadership within his rank, Jamieson said.
Knittel graduated from Thurston County, Wash. Fire and Rescue Recruit Academy December 21, 2013 and has been firefighting since April.
"I have grown to appreciate what it takes to humble myself during the process of learning the skills I need in firefighting," he said. "My department has a great deal of knowledge within its ranks. I work with selfless and committed individuals who have very little to gain from their investment of time and effort."
Since completing the Rescue Recruit Academy, Knittel has completed his Firefighter 1 written and practical test, Hazmat Operations written test and still needs to complete a Hazmat Operations practical test before he can receive his Firefighter 1 certification.