Meet AE Lori Karst
Eight new Apparatus Engineers (AEs) were recently promoted and assigned to a station near you! Get to know them on the MFD Blog.
What is your new station assignment?
Station #3 (Williamson Street) on the A shift.
What was your previous position and station assignment?
Most recently I was a firefighter at Station 5 (Cottage Grove Rd.). I’ve also served at Stations 8, 9, 2, 3, 1, and 7 (in order from most recent to rookie year).
How many years have you served with the MFD?
23 years this fall.
Why did you want to be an Apparatus Engineer?
I love being a firefighter, and transitioning into being a driver was like being shoved out of the bird's nest. It took some coaxing from key members in my life and members on this job to get me to seriously consider it, and then it was CampHERO that put me over the top.
CampHERO is an organization that teaches police, fire, and EMS skills to girls 5-18 years old. I've been fortunate enough to have been involved with it from the start, which is five years now. The support there is tremendous, and the lessons we aim to teach the girls are about courage, confidence, and character. It dawned on me that I was pushing these girls to do things they had never done before and putting them into lots of uncomfortable situations, yet I wasn't following the same mantra in my own life. To be true to these girls, I needed to step out of my comfort zone and greet a new challenge head-on.
The driver position is turning out to be the perfect challenge. When you're on the road you're making decisions all the time. In the station you take on a leadership role for equipment care and knowledge and training.
What’s unique about your territory, and how has that impacted your job?
Station 3’s territory is dense with population as the buildings have gotten higher and higher. What that means for me is I need to be especially vigilant when driving a big rig around. A statement used often is, "A driver needs to keep their head on a swivel," meaning I need to be especially cautious and aware of my surroundings. When backing the rig into the station a skateboarder, biker, pedestrian, dog, or vehicle can pull out at any time.
What do you do when you're not working at MFD?
I've been involved with the winter sport of curling as long as I've been a firefighter and have taken the sport as far as to the Olympic Trials. My role in curling is as the strategist, the decision maker – much like like the role of the Lieutenant in the stations.
The parallels with curling and firefighting are plentiful, and I find the two enhance one another, especially in the 4-person dynamic where communication, decision making, and task completion are of utmost importance if a positive outcome is to happen.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I love working in this city with my Madison Fire Department comrades. I came here from Minnesota with a very strong purpose to work HERE as a firefighter, and feel incredibly blessed to be living that dream. This department strives hard to represent the community with diversity hiring. I'm proud to be a part of the tradition of firefighting with brothers and sisters of many different backgrounds battling as one.