‘Amazing, educating experience’
A team of four firefighters from the UK travelled almost 4,000 miles last month as they embarked on a unique visit to Pakistan and helped establish a new educational link between the two countries.
Spearheaded by the Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA), members of AFSA visited the South Asian country for five days with the aim of providing advice and recommendations on ways to improve the country’s current fire service.
A fact finding visit saw the team experience, first hand, how the Punjab Rescue team is currently run, with everything from training, to medical responses covered.
Muhammad Ali, Kirklees District Prevention Manager, was one member of the group who took part in the visit, and although he says it was ‘exhausting’, he added that it was ‘definitely worthwhile’.
“The work we were doing over there was crucial in helping to ensure the country’s fire service is continually improving,” he said.
“We covered so much in such a short space of time that at points we were doing 12 or 14 hour shifts in the heat, but now we have the information it was definitely worthwhile.
“This first visit was about finding out the facts. We needed to see first-hand how everything was run and then take all this information back to the UK to analyse and provide recommendations.
“We are now looking at how to further develop this programme and hopefully make the trip a regular thing.”
The group signed a memorandum of understanding with the Punjab Rescue group before leaving, which reaffirmed both parties commitment to the newly formed partnership.
Activities such as tower training, reviewing fire engine specifications and simulation designs at the soon-to-be-launched academy, were just some of the undertakings the British representatives partook in, whilst Muhammad also helped host a lecture at Lahore University for aspiring architects in regard to fire protection advice.
Advice and recommendation was given on the spot by the AFSA representatives at points and changes were even made in front of their own eyes.
“When we were looking through plans for the new fire tower training facility for example, one of our members pointed out a few recommendations which were immediately undertaken,” Muhammad said.
“It was great to see them responding in such a positive manner because they wanted to learn.”
He added: “When the group returns, I believe a large focus will be on the community unit, as that was one area which was highlighted for improvements. We need to get more information out to schools and colleges but that is something that will hopefully be brought up next time.
“It is now just a job of looking through all our information and finding the best way forward.”