By Janice Podsada
MUKILTEO — There was no mistaking Lt. Bruce Krafft, volunteer firefighter with the Mukilteo Fire Department. His big, gray mustache gave him away every time.
At Christmas, that same mustache made him the natural choice to play the department’s Santa Claus.
Krafft, 48, former president of the Mukilteo Firefighters’ Association, died Thursday, Oct. 18, after a lengthy illness.
When Krafft wasn’t on call, he often was flipping pancakes at fund-raisers or collecting toys for needy kids.
He was Johnny-on-the-spot, said Maryann Fry, Mukilteo Fire Department assistant.
"He was always there when you needed him."
Krafft, a Mukilteo resident, became a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician in 1994. He quickly earned a reputation for responding to every emergency call. For his dedication, Krafft received three special achievement awards.
"It means you are one of the top volunteers," Fry said.
The Mukilteo Fire Department is staffed by 15 career firefighters and 36 volunteer firefighters, said Fire Chief Jack Colbath.
Volunteers respond to the same type of calls as career firefighters. They are called out on every emergency, Colbath said.
"He was part of the crew down there at the downtown station. He was part of the crew that staffed the station on weekends."
After just four years with the department, Krafft, was promoted to the rank of volunteer lieutenant in 1998.
From boyhood on, Krafft, a house painter, "loved and admired firefighters," Fry said.
In addition to his skills as a firefighter and an emergency medical technician, Krafft was also known for ability to get rolling.
"He was one of the most active members of the department," Colbath said.
He helped organize the Easter Egg Hunt, and the Mukilteo Firefighters pancake breakfast. And at Christmas, he collected food and toys for needy families.
"He was just one of those guys who jumped right in," Colbath said.
As president of the Mukilteo Firefighter’s Association, Krafft’s fund-raising efforts helped the department purchase equipment for its public CPR classes.
His arrival as Santa Claus was sometimes memorable — for fellow firefighters, who had to untangle him from his perch, and for the kids who watched in awe.
"One year we rescued Santa Claus from the training tower at the Harbour Pointe station. It was a fun thing," said career firefighter Troy Elmore, who knew Krafft since his first days as a volunteer firefighter.
"He just did a lot extra things a lot of people didn’t do. We’re going to be missing him around here."
A memorial service for Lt. Bruce Krafft will be at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Mukilteo Presbyterian Church, 822 Third St. in Mukilteo. Krafft is survived by his wife, Dawna Krafft; his sons, Aric, Ricky, Joseph of Mukilteo, and his son Shane of Canada.