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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

A great high-rise save in any language

As well equipped and well trained as we are in the States, we can still learn from our brothers and sisters overseas

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel looks at an amazing save from a high rise in China and encourages all to learn what foreign firefighters have to teach us.

Kudos to our firefighter comrades in China for making a great save under what appears to have been a very difficult situation!

It's not often that we see such a high-resolution and "up-close" video of successful firefighting operations from other countries (including our closest neighbors in Canada and Mexico). I wish we saw more examples of how fire and emergency services are delivered overseas, since we can learn a lot from what they do and how they do it.

I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to several other countries and participate in fire departments presentations, demonstrations, and training exercises.

In every case, I've learned a few things:

  1. As this video demonstrates, we are not the only firefighters in the world who conduct aggressive interior fire attacks. Sure, I've heard us called "Chuck Norris firefighters" by our brothers and sisters in other countries, many of whom take a more structured approach to risk-benefit analysis. But when the chips are down and lives can (realistically) be saved, we're all going in; from Washington to Warsaw (Poland), Phoenix to Tokyo (Japan), and everywhere in between.
  2. Fire prevention is always more effective than fire suppression; imagine this video if the fire apartment was equipped with a sprinkler system. Not much to see, right?

  3. Generally speaking, U.S. fire departments are well-equipped and well-trained compared with those in other countries. Notice I didn't say "better." In some cases we have more resources and training, in other cases less. One example: titanium ground ladders. The Tokyo fire department has them; you can lift a 35-footer with one hand.

So what's my point? Keep an open mind and take every opportunity to learn from all of our brother and sister firefighters whenever, and wherever, they're in harm's way.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.



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