I’ve been on many SELVIS visits but this was by far the best yet!
There were around 10 members, Fatima, Dawn and Hassan in attendance and our visit started with fire fighters Greg and Trez, a lady fire fighter, speaking about smoke alarms, passing examples around for us to handle and set off. Members asked questions about fire fighters’ training on how to get visually impaired people out of burning buildings. We were told that their training is performed by a private company and that disability awareness is not always included.
Fire fighter James showed me his French-made helmet with its 2 visors which I tried on of course, and the 2-way radio they use when entering burning buildings. I was surprised that their radios are not built into their helmets but, as my wife Harriet pointed out later, they need to be able to listen out for the cries of people trapped in burning buildings and the constant burble of a radio in their ears would impede this.
We were offered drinks and now the best bit! We went out to the “Machine Bay”, the yard outside where the fire engines, the pumps, are parked. Greg spoke to us about the fire engine we were standing around and, not one to wait to be invited; I advanced forward to get hands-on with the pump. I worked my way around the vehicle with James describing all of its features, including the hydraulic cutters used to cut people out of cars and the hose reels of various sizes. Having worked my way around to the cab, again I didn’t wait to be invited so climbed into the driver’s seat and James showed me how to turn on the engine and operate the siren. What fun, every small boy’s dream!
Some of us, including me, had a go on using a hose. It was the smallest they use and as it’s the quickest to get going so it’s what they use first when attending a fire. The water comes out under such pressure and I was surprised to find it warm! I should imagine that the pressure from their larger hoses could knock a person over.
After Trez demonstrating on me the lift they use to get people out of burning buildings, it was time to say goodbye to her, Greg, James and Tony. We were the first visually-impaired group to visit them and they were brilliant, not at all overawed by our disability. Huge thanks to the fire fighters of East Greenwich Fire Station for an excellent visit and to SELVIS for setting it up!
Written by member Rikki
Photo shows member at the wheel of fire engine
Photo shows member using a hose