Every summer, Dennis Konrad hangs up his tie and pulls on firefighting boots.
“It’s a good way for me to recharge my batteries,” said the Borah High School assistant principal.
The 51-year-old has been fighting fires for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) since the day after graduating high school — 32 summers.
“I call it a three-month camping trip,” Konrad said. “You come out and roll in the dirt and smoke.”
For the last 10 years, Konrad has been a BLM fire operation supervisor. When a fire breaks out, he delegates job tasks to the firefighters on the scene. Konrad works Tuesday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and stays at a fire until the flames are extinguished.
“It’s a lot of paperwork,” Konrad said. “I take great pride in this career and I enjoy it every year.”
Konrad has traveled to fight fires from Florida to Alaska. His most memorable Idaho fires are the Oregon Trail Fire 25 years ago in Mountain Home and the Hot Creek Fire 13 years ago in Atlanta.
“When you fight fire you get to see places many people don’t get to see,” Konrad said. “I tell my students stories about what I’ve seen across the country.”
Konrad taught U.S. history for 23 years at Boise High School and will start his third year as an administrator at Borah in August.
“I just don’t put fires out in the summer,” Konrad said. “I have to put out a lot of fires at school when students, teachers and parents come to my office.”
This is the fifth in a series of stories on educators and their summer jobs.