Successful UK fire prevention methods will feature at a conference in Denmark in March after a visit organised by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service from a 22-year-old student.
Andreas Sorgensen has just returned home after a ten week internship studying firefighting techniques in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire fire and rescue services with a visit to West Midlands Ambulance Service as well.
The student, who is a trainee firefighter as part of his national service, was so impressed with the way fire prevention is tackled in the UK which has led to a 40% reduction in incidents over the last 10 years, that he produced an article for senior fire officers in Denmark. As a result fire officers from the West Midlands region have been invited to address a national fire prevention conference in Copenhagen in the Spring.
Andreas is studying for a university degree in Emergency and Risk Management and aiming for a career as a senior fire officer.
During his tour of Midlands brigades he attended 999 calls including a chemical incident and a major road traffic collision, saw training sessions on chemicals, incident command and civil contingency, and witnessed how fire officers liaised with other emergency services.
He sat in on a Chief Fire Officers Association meeting on national resilience, met fire cadets, went out with the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and mountain rescue volunteers in Birmingham. Andreas also made home fire safety visits and observed how firefighters work in schools to educate children about fire safety.
“It has been a great opportunity to see how the fire services work. We have 60 per cent more fire calls in Denmark. It must come down to the fire prevention work you are doing,” said Andreas, who made a detailed report to fire officers to compare how the two countries run their fire services.
Andreas said that there were many similarities between the fire services but that fire prevention was much better in the UK.
“The UK can learn a lot from Denmark and Denmark can learn from the UK,” said Andreas, who stayed with firefighter families in Shropshire.
Both countries had problems recruiting on call firefighters, they responded to a lot of false alarms with fees charged to companies for false callouts in Denmark. The UK could teach Danish firefighters about the HART team, Community Fire Safety, national resilience and flooding resources, said Andreas.
There were new and more efficient ways to put out fires including CAFS, Cobra and fireballs, which were being tested in many Danish brigades, he said.
John Harrison, Area Manager and head of training in Shropshire, said: “We have had an offer from the Head of Prevention in Denmark who would like an officer from the UK to address a national conference in March and that offer has been taken up.”
Shropshire’s Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said: “It was pleasing to see that our success in prevention was recognised and Andreas felt his internship was valuable to him. It was also valuable to us and demonstrated we have a lot to learn from Denmark including innovations in firefighting technology.
“It was also a pleasure to host a young emergency services professional who already seems to have experience and knowledge beyond his years.”
It is not the first time the two fire services have collaborated. In 2008, Shropshire firefighters trained their Danish counterparts in breathing apparatus techniques while equipment to inject water into roof spaces was brought back from Denmark and introduced into Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service. Shropshire crews were also trained by Danish firefighters to use ventilation fans to remove smoke from burning buildings.