Troy firefighter forges history into fiery win

Special Reports

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s said your destiny is forged in the fires of your determination. A local man has made that saying a reality, his family history and Capital Region history helping him come out on top in a fiery national competition.

Over the sounds of clanging metal in his backyard, Adam Coonradt told NEWS10’s Lydia Kulbida, “I’ve always considered myself a maker.”

Adam started forging about three years ago, “I’ve always loved making things, taking things apart, putting things back together.”

It’s a gift he’s passed on to his children.

“My kids are makers as well, my son makes those flags and other wooden projects, my daughter makes all kinds of jewelry.”

Because it’s a tradition he learned from his father and grandfather, “Growing up we didn’t have much money and stuff like that, so they had to fix their own things, they had to fix their own cars, build their own houses, so I was always right there with them just doing it and that’s how I learned.”

But forging? That was self-taught, inspired by family history in the anvil he uses that belonged to his great grandfather.

“It was sitting at the bottom of the stairs in my grandfather’s barn for years,” Adam recalled, “and I was like, you know what, there’s an anvil, I want to forge, I bought some simple tools, and it was all just downhill from there (chuckles).”

Or straight to the top! Adam recently competed with three other bladesmiths on The History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” competition.

“I went in with the mindset that I’m going to enjoy every second of this,” Adam said, and as he made his blades on his great grandfather’s anvil, he put a little Troy history in the national spotlight too.

“There you go, that’s my touch mark,” as he pointed to a familiar symbol.

His touch mark, or signature, is a hat tip to Troy’s famous native son: Uncle Sam’s hat. Adam made the top two and watched as the judges put their blades to the test.

“After Alex’s blade broke, I was like oh my God, I could actually win this,” Adam shared, “but then my blade could break too! I had issues with the heat treatment, so it’s still a possibility but that excitement was building up, I was nervous. Honestly when I heard the ting of his blade breaking, my heart sank, I felt horrible for Alex because no one wants to see someone else’s stuff break. I would have loved it to have come down to fit and finish and craftsmanship rather than someone’s sword failing.”

And after Adam came out on top?

“I still talk to all the guys who were on the show with me!” Lydia told him, “You’re a good guy.”

“The hardest thing was keeping my mouth shut when it was over,” Adam chuckled, “because I couldn’t tell anybody, so I had this wonderful great experience and could not share it with anybody.”

His wife doesn’t mind sharing him with his hobby, “She loves it, she doesn’t mind me having my own project, especially that it’s here at my house because I can go inside, she can come out and be with me, the kids are working with me as well. My kids actually have their own workbenches in the basement. My family is great I’m one of the luckiest men in the world to have the family that I do.”

Some people in the Capital Region may remember “Forged in Fire” when a man who tried to copy the show started a massive fire in Cohoes in 2017. No need to worry about that happening with Adam.

“Welcome to the Troy Fire Department!” Adam greeted us as he opened the door to his station.

Lydia asked, “What made you want to be a firefighter?” Adam, “I’ve always enjoyed helping people.”

And in a twist, forging has helped Adam, “I had a really bad call a long time ago with a kid over in Green Island who got burned,” Adam recalled, “so I had a lot of trouble with fire right after that. I had to be in control of the fireplace at camp, I had to control the barbecue pit, it kind of helped me through that as well. I’m glad I got over that so I can do this.”

Fire is a dangerous force, but when tamed, can make beautiful shapes. Adam showed us how an ordinary horseshoe was now twisted into a heart showing kissing horses.

And when you find whatever fuels your passion, Adam says share it with the world.

“Be a maker, put stuff out into the world, whatever it might be, if you enjoy doing it, do it. If it’s writing a poem, making a costume, building things, there’s a great maker space in Troy there’s a lot of maker spaces around there. A lot of people need trade works as well, carpenters’ union, plumbers’ union, steamfitters’ unions. We need people that know how to work with their hands and build things and make things, so just put yourself out there.”

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