Chesterton Tribune

CFD hosts German firefighters

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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 developed.

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.


Posted 7/2/2012