Firefighter Freddie Martin of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service in the UK followed in his father footsteps 20 years after he had worked with the Plano Fire Department in Texas, USA.
Freddie is a full-time Control Operator in the Cornwall based Critical Control Centre as well as being an On-Call Firefighter in his hometown of Perranporth within the Duchy.
Planning for a visit to the Sides family in McKinney, hosts for his father on a 5-week exchange in 1997, Freddie was offered the opportunity to complete a 24-hour duty with B shift out of Plano’s Central fire station.
During his shift Freddie participated in a training session utilising both the Rosenbauer Ladder Truck and Engine stationed at Central. He also took part in a firefighting drill including the use of Scott Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).
Having been gifted a full set of Firefighting Kit (Bunker Gear) from Bristol Uniforms, similar to that used in his home Service, as well as a Rosenbauer ‘Heros’ Fire Helmet and Haix Fire boots Freddie was not only identifiable by his US colleagues but it also provided an opportunity to experience different fire and rescue technology, a key outcome of his fathers visit 20 years earlier.
US colleagues were impressed by the lightweight nature of the Bristol Uniforms kit and the technology and user experience with the Rosenbauer helmet. In relation to the latter, from comments received it is very clear that tradition and cultural play a major part in the preference of personnel for their PPE.
Freddie got to experience an insight into Plano fire departments extensive community education programme and their popular ‘Clown’ programme used to educate young children throughout the Autumn months.
During his shift, Freddie attended an informal award ceremony where Plano FD Fire Chief, Sam Greif presented awards to staff for their actions at a firearms incident. He also attended a wide range of incidents including road traffic collisions, a range of medical emergencies and a residential property fire.
Freddie said “The opportunity to spend time with a highly respected Fire Department was too good to miss. I learned a lot in my one shift but I know I have only scratched the surface and could easily spend weeks with Plano.
Being part of a team for whom the medical response is a key part of their role was different, with Firefighters needing to maintain a far broader range of competencies than UK colleagues.
Beyond the practical experience, it is clear that the UK and US Firefighters share many values, thoughts and of course sense of humour.
Our technology and procedures have some differences and this brief opportunity demonstrated the benefits of sharing ideas and experiences”
The kit gifted to Freddie was left with the Department for longer-term consideration. The Rosenbauer helmet is currently being used by an instructor at the neighbouring Garland Fire Department training centre.
Now back at work in Cornwall, Freddie has maintained contact with his US colleagues through email and social media.
For information on Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service visit Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
For information on Plano Fire Department visit Plano Fire Department
Image shows Firefighter Freddie Martin of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service with US colleagues from the Plano Fire Department.