Retired New York City firefighter finds rewards volunteering in remote areas of the BWCA
Joe Friedrichs
Outdoor News

Retired New York City firefighter finds rewards volunteering in remote areas of the BWCA

Chris Kielczewski, a retired firefighter from New York, is a recreation volunteer on Superior National Forest’s Tofte District this summer.

He arrived in May and is staying at a remote cabin on the shores of Sawbill Lake that is owned by the U.S. Forest Service. He’s spent weeks doing work in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

“While we’re out there we’re patrolling, doing visitor contacts, also checking campsites for maintenance, digging new latrines when they need to be dug,” Kielczewski said. “We’re also checking for hazard trees to make sure that when visitors are in the Boundary Waters their campsite is safe.”

Prior to his arrival this spring, Kielczewski was unfamiliar with what the Boundary Waters had to offer.

“And I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s fantastic,” he said. “What a beautiful wilderness. I’ve had some other wilderness experiences around the country. But this is certainly a unique one.”

The 52-year-old Kielczewski is retired from the New York City Fire Department with 25 years of service. When he was working, Kielczewski was stationed to a fire department in Brooklyn, across the river from the World Trade Center. He shared a story with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs during a recent interview about working as a firefighter in New York City on the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Other topics discussed during the interview include how Kielczewski handled the remoteness of the Boundary Waters this summer, what types of biting insects bothered him the most and his thoughts on why so many people are obsessed with walleye in Minnesota. Listen to the full interview in the audio below.