Nice thing about the laws of thermodynamics and chemistry: they work the
same all over the world.
Or as CFD Training Office Nate Williams puts it succinctly, “Firefighting is
firefighting, you put water on it and it goes out.”
On Friday, the Chesterton Fire Department got international, as it hosted
for a day two German firefighters in the States for a visit, both of them
from the Monheim Department near Cologne: Group Leader Majbritt Neue and
Firefighter (Feuerwehrmann) Daniel Schultz.
Neue and Schultz are two of seven German firefighters on a two-week trip
with their families to Porter County. They’re not the first ones to visit
either, Williams said. Some years ago, CFD Lt. Steve Himan and his brothers,
Andy Jr. and Jeremy—both of whom work for the Portage Fire Department—were
attending the Indiana Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indiana,
where they met a couple of German firefighters. A relationship subsequently
Neue and Schultz spent part of their shift on Friday in training exercises
with the CFD—flowing water from the ladder truck and through some specialty
nozzles—and rolled on all calls, which on Friday proved to be EMS assists,
Williams said. Although they did sign waivers, enabling them to pull their
own weight had there actually been a structure fire, the two hadn’t brought
their fitted bunker gear with them from Monheim.
In any case, they felt pretty much right at home at the CFD. Because
firefighting is firefighting. “The tools are a little different,” Neue told
the Chesterton Tribune. “But the job is the same.”
Himan noted, for example, that German engines—European engines really—tend
to be smaller than American ones. They have to be. European towns and cities
are centuries’ old, they built the streets much narrower in medieval days,
and large vehicles just can’t negotiate the twists and turns.
Another difference. “They use less water in Europe,” Williams said. “There
everything is made of stone and masonry except the roofs. Everything here is
wood. In Europe they put in some water, close the door, and let it steam
off. The stone exteriors don’t burn. Just the roof.”
Are Neue and Schultz enjoying themselves?
“Of course,” Schultz said. “We are. Absolutely.”
Any special plans while in the States?
“Niagara Falls,” Neue said.