Today I had the pleasure of touring the Verona Main Fire Station (Caserma dell Viligi di Fuoco), which was, arrange by our friend Giorgio. We met the husband of his cousin – Roberto - for a grand tour. Roberto has been with the fire department for 15 years and is a Hazardous Materials Specialist (specialista RI/NBCR) This was my specialization way back when I was a firefighter.
Roberto doesn’t speak English and my Italian is getting better, I would not say it is good, but because we were talking about things I know it was fairly easy to understand most of what he said. What I missed Giorgio was able to help explain because he is accustomed to speaking to tourists and knows how to simplify Italian for us.
It is amazing to me how similar the concerns and joys of firefighters are no matter where I meet them. Roberto was showing us the newest fire truck and he explained that it is very dangerous because the ride is so smooth the driver doesn’t realize how fast it is going and braking is a problem. The older trucks are all manual shift and have very hard suspension. This is more like a bus than a fire truck for them. He took us for a spin around the parking lot and quickly he realized he was going too fast for the turn he had to make, looked at me and smiling said “e” vero” (it’s true).
When we got to the NBCR (nuclear, biological, chemical & rescue) rigs I explained that for 12 years this is what I did on the Tempe Fire Dept. He looked relieved because that would mean a much easier explanation of what we were looking at. He told me that since Sept 11th 2001 everything has change financially for this specialty. Suddenly there is enough money to provide training and tools. We shared the thought that it is amazing how politicians can find a way to pay for the things they think necessary no matter how many years prior the experts had been saying this is important. I have been retired for almost seven years and was amazed at how many of the tools I had used were now miniature and more efficient.
Roberto is quite obviously proud of the job he does (rightfully so) and the joy he gets from doing it is equally obvious. I fondly remember both feelings. I think Giorgio enjoyed the tour as much as I did. He told me that this is the first time he has ever visited a Caserma and by the number of questions he asked I am certain he learned many things.
Grazie Mille Giorgio e Roberto
And all the men and women who do this work