Allen Janzen starting Firefighter Crafted

Hello, my name is Allen Janzen. Here’s how I was introduced to the fire service and how I started Firefighter Crafted. When I was 10 years old my brother-in-law took me to LAFD fire station 88 on fire service day. I saw live demonstrations of firefighters using the “jaws of life“ on a vehicle, fire engines and trucks were open to climb inside, and helicopters did a red, white, and blue water drop! I even got to spray a fire hose for the first time! I was so excited that day that I knew this was a career I wanted to pursue. Looking back, I’m disappointed that I didn’t buy a station T-shirt to commemorate such an exciting day. Fast forward seventeen years later, I have now achieved my childhood dream of becoming a firefighter for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. 

As a firefighter, I’ve worked many 24-hour shifts in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and many parts of the San Fernando Valley. I’ve been surprised at the uniqueness of each station. As you walk through the halls, offices, tool rooms, and workout areas, you will often find amazing art displayed. Things that have been handcrafted out of wood, metal, retired fire hose, or even murals and paintings show pride and history of the fire department. Many of these art mediums have been done by firefighters of all ranks at each station. There is often a display case of unique station apparel, hats, stickers, or challenge coins that have been designed by firefighters and printed to later be sold to raise money for the station “house dues” fund. 

Many people outside of the fire service may be unaware that so much within the fire station is actually funded by the members themselves through “house dues.” Most supplies like condiments, spices, cereals, baking supplies, coffee and tea, paper goods, soaps and toiletries, and vitamins and basic medicines are all paid for through house dues. We also self-fund the Internet, TV service, furniture, and even basic appliances around the station like microwaves, washers and dryers. Another major expense is our exercise equipment. These larger items are put up to a station vote before a portion of the house dues budget is spent. Sometimes, generous donors and groups have provided funding for expensive equipment and supplies. 

While working at different stations, I started capturing pictures of the art that has stood out to me. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to have a career long history of firefighter crafted art that I could look back on and share with my friends, family, and to future generations?” I would ask, “Who made this?” or “Where could I get one?” Often the connection of who or where to get these products was forgotten. I knew there needed to be a way to network among firefighters for designing art and crafting things around the station. I also have seen boxes of unsold station apparel that is available to the public but often not known even exists to the public. 

This is when I decided to bridge the gap (between the public and the firefighter craftsmen) and create a website. Firefighter Crafted was born. Firefighter Crafted is an online marketplace where firefighters and/or fire stations can promote their crafted products, designs, and apparel and sell them to the public to raise money for station needs. We also donate a portion of proceeds to our firefighter charities. These charities assist firefighters and their families in extreme medical needs and/or with debilitating injuries or deaths. The products range from various art forms using wood, metal, leather, paintings, or even retired fire hose. Some are custom services based on each vendor. The art and designs aren’t necessarily “firefighter” or “fire department” related, but specially made and designed by local firefighters. 

You now have a unique opportunity to buy local firefighter crafted art products. In doing so, you are not only encouraging a firefighter’s creativity, but also get the satisfaction of supporting your local fire department and giving to charity for firefighters in THEIR time of need. Thank you for taking the time to support, share, like and follow Firefighter Crafted.