Shaping a New World

Over the summer holidays, I was blessed to involved in “shaping a new world” though my internship with ARUP Singapore. Having been away from home for the year studying with IMFSE, I did not know what to expect returning to the working world in a similar industry but a different scope; a mechanical engineer turned fire engineer. However, the experience was truly refreshing as I was not only working in an awesome environment but I could also see the relevance of the knowledge I gained the past year.

Contrary to what most people expect of internship work (print papers, data entry etc.), I was thankful that I had not only interesting and exciting tasks but my work was taken seriously too. One of the first tasks that I was entrusted to was to build flowcharts and you may think… hmm what’s so interesting about that. Well, these flowcharts are mainly for the understanding of clients and authorities on the design intent and sequence of events when there is a fire alarm. I realised that it took a lot of methodological thinking to capture the different scenarios that could arise and “leave no stone unturned”. This is especially so since most of the projects that require fire safety engineering inputs in Singapore are for performance-based solutions. The projects are not conventional and require a thorough thought process from not only design but also operation in a fire scenario. A “simple” flowchart may take many revisions to be satisfactory as different individuals and stakeholders would highlight certain areas to be enhanced. Although this may be a frustrating process, we know that every revision will contribute to a better, comprehensive design.

Another memorable task I had was to restructure a design guideline such that it is more user-friendly and relevant to a specific use.  It involves reading through many documents including various codes and standards to summarise the key points that are crucial to the building such that it would be reproducible. At times I find myself lost in the overload of information, but the challenge is to pick out what is important, question why the guidance was there in the first place and how could it be improved; something Stephen Welsh’s Fire Safety Engineering course in Edinburgh prepared me for. It was probably one of my favourite tasks as it was like my baby and honestly, I was sad to leave it (no matter how painful it was) by the end of my internship.

One of the most eye-opening tasks I had was helping with fire simulations. I would not have realised it then but I am truly thankful for our Simulations in Fire Enclosures course in Lund now. It may have been a basic course on simulations and FDS but without it, I would have been completely lost with real-world simulations that are of a larger scale and complexity. To those who will be taking the course next semester, appreciate what is taught as it will go a long way. Always remember to CHECK YOUR FDS FILE (learnt it the hard way :(…) even if you are using user-friendly software like PyroSIM. Simulations are extremely time-consuming and tedious but the satisfaction when the “pretty” and CORRECT pictures are generated is really rewarding. I will never underestimate the work that goes into simulations ever again!

There were also other tasks along the way like helping to prepare fire engineering reports, mini research work like justifying a design fire size (thanks to both fire dynamics courses in Edinburgh and Lund!) and just about anything that needed to be done, I’m game for it. However, the highlight of my internship experience is more than just work… it’s the people.

WhatsApp Image 2018-08-31 at 12.50.29 PM (1)

The fire team in ARUP Singapore may be small but mighty! Led by one of the coolest boss I’ve worked with, the team of 7 (3 of which are IMFSE alumnus!!!) are a crazy bunch of individuals with not only different vibrant personalities but also bring different skill sets to the team. It was a truly wholesome team with great camaraderie and all of them had the same drive and passion for the work they do. They are a truly inspiring team of fire engineers who made my internship experience all the more rewarding as I was motivated to learn and contribute as much as possible with them.

Thanks to Ruth for giving me the opportunity to join your awesome team and more importantly, showing me what an exemplary fire safety engineer should be. To Li Hooi (IMFSE alumni), thanks for looking out for me and making sure I get the most out of the experience. To Matthew, although you always call me “Intern”, I really appreciate how you treat me like I’m not and I enjoyed working with you on challenging projects. To Khai (IMFSE alumni), it’s weird to see you at work after knowing you as a student but hey, guess you are as good at work as you are as a student! To Pris (my FDS guru), thanks for patiently teaching me FDS and wow-ing me with your eye for detail! To Mai, thanks for being an energizer bunny and injecting happiness to everyone yet working really hard and willing to help anyone in need. To Jasper (IMFSE alumni), technically I have never worked with you but thanks for always willing to help when I needed advice and being a great support!

It is not common to find a team of individuals that are so dedicated to their craft like the team I had the honour to work with in ARUP Singapore. Not only were they extremely nice individuals, they had an admirable work ethic and a thrist for knowledge that is truly commendable. The best definition of a fire engineer I came across (and one which i truly aspire to live by) was aptly mentioned in Bart Vanbever’s speech during last year’s FSE day (FSE Day 2018 is coming soon… stay tuned!!!) where he quoted the late Margaret Law, one of ARUP’s finest fire engineers:

margaret-law-fire-engineer-arup

With that definition, I believe that the fire team in ARUP Singapore are true fire engineers living her legacy.

To build on Kate’s post, I would also strongly recommend future IMFSE students to pursue an internship during the summer break. Searching for an internship may be long and frustrating but the process of finding one is an experience in itself. It is also important to make the most out of the courses in IMFSE and look beyond just the exams and assignments as I believe it truly prepares us to be good fire engineers as long as we approach it with the right learning attitude. No matter where we end up working at or what we are working on, attitude will continue to play big role in how much we can gain from the experience as even the most mundane tasks can have a purpose if we give it a purpose. 🙂

Advertisements

Fuel For My Fire

[DISCLAIMER: This post has little about fire too but it starts with the letter “F(?)”]

As we start our school semester, it is often easy to be trapped in the stressful academic life; lectures, assignments and impending doom…. exams!! The first week in Ghent is nothing short of intense as it is probably the university with the most contact hours compared to my previous semesters in Lund and Edinburgh. So it is no surprise that I am soon in search of my “go-to” stress-reliever: FLOORBALL!!!

A brief intro on the sport: Floorball (or innebandy as it is called in Sweden. its country of origin) is a relative new sport which is a type of floor hockey played indoors. It seems like the game was invented as a substitute for ice hockey when there is no ice. Being a fast and exciting sport, I love the sport back in Singapore where I have been playing for the past 10 years and coming to Europe, where the sport was even more popular, I knew that I can’t stop. Here’s a little taste on what floorball is:

Before arriving in Edinburgh for my first semester, I started scouting for teams in the city that I could join. I wasn’t hoping for much as the sport is not big in the UK (as compared to top favorites like of course football) but I was happy when I found Edinburgh Floorballers who plays recreationally near my accommodation (plus they were friendly and nice!). As I wanted to also try to play competitively, the players there recommended that I joined Fife Floorball Club who are based in Kirkcaldy, Fife (a train ride away from Edinburgh) since it was the nearest club. It was with them where I played in the Scottish Cup and the Scottish Floorball League and boy, was it an experience! It was the first time playing alongside men and there is so much diversity in game play. I had wonderful teammates both young and younger who were a joy to play with. I also realised how dedicated players here are even to a non-mainstream sport as we had to travel close to 2 hours by car to the competition venue in Perth (and play 3 games in a row to make full use of the travel).  I look forward to joining them again when I return to Edinburgh!!!

The next semester to be an exciting one as I would be heading to SWEDEN!! The birthplace of floorball!! It is no surprise that Sweden have dominated the world championship (although Finland have been contesting for the top spot in recent years) and there’s even more anticipation on what’s to come when you google “Lund University Floorball” and one of the first pictures you see is this….

csm_Floorball2016_c669b2cccb

Yup!! That’s the fire engineering teachers’ team from Lund University lead by goalkeeper Prof. Patrick van Hees! Walking down the Brandteknik corridor, you may spot the goalie helmet at the corner of Patrick’s office or the stick by the corner of Enrico’s office. I guess floorball does run in the fire engineering blood…. or at least in Lund!

As Lund University has strong links with universities in Singapore, a couple of my floorball friends back home were in Lund for their exchange and together we went in search for avenues to play floorball. There were hit-arounds by the nations as well as other student associations but our favourite experience was with Killer Kriller Boys or KKB for short (KKB sounds like Kokobear when pronounced the Swedish way). They are a bunch of friends who just picked up a sport a year ago but had so much passion for the sport that it was truly inspiring. I loved fighting alongside them in the Korpen Innebandy Lund. Win, lose or draw, it didn’t matter as they were an encouraging team and through floorball, I gained a team of friends too! I truly miss playing with them now that I’m out of Lund but I am glad that they are still floorball-ing on! Also, since the competition venue was only a short walk away, even my IMFSE classmates were in on the action by coming down to watch the games. Thanks guys for your support!! 🙂

Sweden is really a heaven for a floorball fan. They are floorball sticks sold in every sports store, even the second hand stores! I was also able to catch the Swedish Super League in the Globe Arena, Stockholm!!! That is like witnessing floorball equivalent of the Champions League or even the World Cup!!

I’m not hoping to convert all fire engineers to floorball fanatics but having an outlet to relieve stress or meet new people has helped me to gain a wider experience during my IMFSE journey beyond the classroom, beyond the university. Floorball has seen me through tough times during my studies and work back home but despite being far from home, it is one that is still sustaining me even now. I have also met great friends who share the same passions as me while developing a better understanding of the game and how it differs worldwide with different game plays, competition set-ups and players. Kind of how teaching styles, university administrations or even students vary from place to place along the IMFSE journey.

Everyone needs that bit of fuel to fire on through their studies in the IMFSE programme. It may be tennis (call Gerard), basketball (call Miqdad) or dancing (which seems to be favorite among some of my classmates as they would attend “Dancing in the Dark” which is a weekly event in Lund organised by No Lights, No Lycra). No matter what that fuel is, bring it with you together with your love for fire safety engineering as you move from one city to another for there is more out there to explore.

@ time t=0

IMFSE is back in business with new students eager to initialise their IMFSE journey and old ones wishing time could slow down for us to savour the last year we have with the IMFSE family. Despite being the first time studying in Ghent for most of us, it was back to the similar drill of applying resident permits, moving into accommodation, buying the necessities, opening bank account etc… which may sound daunting but for any IMFSE student, it has become a norm. Adaptability is definitely one useful lifeskill that all IMFSE students have attained due to the mobility aspect of the programme.

However, one segment of the start that I was looking forward to was definitely the IMFSE Welcome Moment traditionally held at the start of the school term where the students in Edinburgh and Ghent meet for the first time…. virtually. For the first year, it was a chance to meet their fellow colleagues on the other side of the North Sea but for the year 2s its a reunion of old friends since we separated from Lund. It was like deja vu as I could still remember being on the other side of the screen in Edinburgh last year.

As the formalities of introduction got underway, I was well aware of the high calibre of IMFSE students in the new batch. Kudos to the selection team for bringing together many talented students from diverse background but with a common goal… to develop as future fire safety engineers as well as develop the future of fire safety engineering. It really shows how much IMFSE have grown over the years and its exciting to anticipate what IMFSE have in store for the future. So here we go, start of year 2018-2019!!

Welcome week is nothing without a good get together and Edinburgh (with the active effort by Prof Grunde Jomaas) really set the bar when it comes to welcome parties and social events (which I’m sure you will hear more about from the bloggers in Edinburgh now). But hey, Ghent University has got exciting stuff in store of us this year… presenting to you… Ghent’s answer to Edinburgh’s “Burgers and Social”…. “BEERS AND SUN”… hehe (sorry but I dont think anyone would deny that Belgium do have the best beers and definitely more sun”).

The FSE Introduction Day started with a lunch which not only had a variety of sandwiches but also provided a platform for both IMFSE and MFSE (local FSE masters in Ghent) students to mingle with each other which is important as we would be classmates in the coming semester. However, what the IMFSE team in Ghent had in store for us next was really novel, a brainchild of Prof. Ruben van Coille. It involves a workshop where all of us were split into groups and were given a practical case of the fire safety design of Shopping Centre for us to brainstorm on the fire safety considerations that is to be taken into account. This exercise was not only moderated by the professors but also FESG (Fire Engineered Solutions Ghent), a fire safety engineering consultancy firm from Ghent who was able to provide practical insights into fire safety engineering application to real-life projects. The “boundary conditions” set in the formation of the groups also forced us to mingle and expose us to different ideas and concepts within the groups itself. Overall, this is quite an interesting initiative which I hope will continue for future generations to come.

But wait… where is the beers and sun? Well, the day ended with a gathering at VOORUIT! With drinks in hand, we basked in the sun at the outdoor deck of the bar while enjoying each other’s company. Ain’t no better way to end the day!!

So here’s to another year filled with challenges but not without friendships and memories to last. Greetings from the IMFSE team in Ghent!!

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-19 at 7.48.52 PM

 

 

IMFSE’s first registered Fire Safety Engineer in Singapore: Liew Li Hooi

Over the summer break, I have the wonderful opportunity to work as an intern in ARUP Singapore where I met one of the pioneer batch of IMFSE students. Ms Liew Li Hooi graduated from the IMFSE programme back in 2012 and is currently a senior fire engineer in ARUP Singapore.

41739965_257999534854158_3072367845460410368_n

Li Hooi who originated from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia joined the IMFSE programme after working as a Diplomatic Officer in the Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for a year. Looking to make a career change, she joined the IMFSE programme in 2010 and since then she has grown leaps and bounds as a fire safety engineer. Upon graduation, she has worked in two of the leading engineering firms in the world; AECOM for 2.5 years before proceeding to ARUP where has worked for 3.5 years since. Her experience culminated in her being awarded the registered Fire Safety Engineer (FSE) status under the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) last month. This is a proud moment for any practising engineer in Singapore as it is highly specialised and recognised title in Singapore. This is what she has to say about her momentous achievement:

Upon graduation, my initial thought was to pursue a career somewhere warmer, spoiled with good Asian food and closer to home so Singapore was naturally the perfect choice. It was supposed to be a temporary stop to gain experience before moving home for good but I just fell in love with Singapore in many ways and don’t think I am moving home anytime soon. During my interview with SCDF to be registered as an FSE, I told the interviewing panel frankly that I had been working towards this moment since I graduated and I am really flattered for the recognition. FSE is the bridge that connects the clients and the fire authority, I think it is very important for us to strike a balance in between meeting client’s expectations and achieving satisfactory level of fire safety.

Being an intern under Li Hooi and watching her achieve this recognition before my eyes was an inspiring moment. As she is the first IMFSE student to be a registered FSE in Singapore, it was a re-affirmation of my own decision for a career change and how IMFSE is a great platform to develop a strong foundation for future FSEs. Li Hooi’s journey in IMFSE started in Edinburgh followed by Lund and then Ghent where she stayed on to complete her dissertation under the supervision of the legendary Bart Merci. Here is what she has to say on the impact of IMFSE in her development as a fire safety engineer:

The training in IMFSE definitely prepared me very well for the job market, I have been promoting this programme regularly to people who have asked me this question including the Singapore fire authority. Other than the familiarisation with the local codes, I could basically work independently as soon as I graduated. I was very confident whenever questioned because I understand the fundamentals of fire engineering and was able to carry out simulations and designs with minimum guidance. Can’t really say which course specifically stands out because they were all great.

Her words brought a lot of conviction to the programme. Prior to joining the programme, I was surprised that many fire safety engineers in Singapore already knew about IMFSE and have assured me that it was a great programme. Now I understood how Li Hooi has become an IMFSE champion by being a great example of the potential and capabilities that an IMFSE graduate can bring to the industry. However, as IMFSE can provide the perfect foundation for a fire engineering student, the development to become a professional in the industry is different ball game altogether. This is what Li Hooi has to say about her work as a fire safety engineer and the challenges she faced:

The most fulfilling moment is definitely upon obtaining design approval from the fire authority. It is a product of countless coordination with multi-disciplinary design teams, hard-earned approval from the clients, and multiple rounds of negotiations with the authority; and imagine working on perhaps 10 projects in average at any one point that give you different issues every single day, the real challenge is to keep yourself motivated. A good way to de-stress is to take a tour in the city with your visitors and start telling them proudly “I worked on this project” – works well for me.

Thoughout my internship, Li Hooi has shown to be an exemplary fire safety engineer. Despite the heavy workload, she maintains a professional attitude towards each project and is able to gain the respect of both clients and authorities involved in her projects. Being a good fire safety engineer is much more than just a job; it is a responsibility. So what are the ingredients that make a good fire safety engineer?

Personally I think it all goes down to carrying the right attitude, regardless of what profession you’re in. The similarity I gathered from my two mentors over the past 6 years is that they are both very patient and humble. Professionally, I would say that a fire safety engineer should carry out due diligence to coordinate with the design team and ensure that all required fire safety provisions are captured in the architect and engineer’s designs. We have also the responsibilities to highlight to the design team whenever we spot mistakes although not within our scope of works.

As I start my final year in IMFSE, the experience of working with IMFSE alumni, Li Hooi, has been a refreshing boost to spur myself on for another year. I was also appreciative that even though I was only an intern, she cared about my development within the 2 months by ensuring that I was exposed to as many aspects of fire safety engineering as possible and not only gave me interesting tasks but trusted me with them. There is much more for me to learn and develop but for now, these are her words of advice for budding fire safety engineers like me:

Just enjoy yourselves for now, you’re all in good hands! 🙂

Tornado of Fire

As the summer break tapers to the end, I am reminded of my first week back in Singapore, my home country, where I spent my summer. I had severe fire withdrawal symptoms without lessons to keep me firing on which left me googling for fiery stuff to keep me busy. My search brought me to the Singapore Science Centre where they had a fire-themed exhibition topped with a Fire Tornado Demonstration. So off I went to the West of Singapore (honestly, it not that far… Singapore is a little island) for a visit to the Singapore Science Centre… (Disclaimer: I do NOT have a vested interest in the Singapore Science Centre). Before you raise your hopes up for some super sophisticated science centre, our science centre is quite… dated.. so don’t be surprised by the rudimentary (but still informative) exhibits. (Don’t worry, plans are in place for a new one soon… hope they will still have a fire themed exhibit though… but better!)

IMG_9498
What happens when something burns? How do matches, lighters and firecrackers work?  How does nature depend on fire?

While waiting for the main event i.e. the fire tornado, I walked around the (small) exhibition on fire. Somehow, it seems familiar…. apparently, this exact exhibition has been around since I was a kid. As I observe the kids around me enjoying their school holiday interacting with the fire exhibits… I wonder how many of them would be inspired to become fire engineers in the future! (though they probably wondering why a grown woman is reading the exhibits intently when it’s clearly meant for kids)

The exhibit covered simple basics of fire such as the fire triangle and introduced concepts such as the ignition point and fire chemistry. It then builds up to explain simply how things works such as hot air balloons, jet engines and explosives. These are done with the help of props and simple interactive activities to formulate an understanding for the kids. Although professors would be horrified if I started referencing to a kids exhibition for my assignments, it was refreshing to step away from the academic world of fire to a more relatable platform in the study of fire…. isn’t that why we are studying fire for… the people?

Then, the highlight of the day came as the scene was set for the fire tornado demonstration. Excitement grew as the audience were drawn towards a massive glass column in the middle of the atrium which metal vanes lining the bottom (which would prove to be key in the demonstration…). Before the start, in true fire safety style, the host reminded the audience to stand behind the yellow line to keep a safety distance away from the experiment and point out the emergency exits in case of emergency. Fire safety? CHECK!!!

The demonstration started with an introduction on how fire requires fuel, oxygen and heat to form. With a handful of powdered Lycopodium (dry spores of plants used in fireworks), she walked around scaring kids by attempting to light it up with an ignitor. To the relief of the kids, it does not light up despite having the 3 ingredients to make-up a fire. In order not to disappoint the crowd ready for some fire action, she blew the powder into the cylinder while lighting it up. OOOOHS and AHHHs followed as a fireball emerged. It was explained that when the powder is scattered in the air, it interacts with enough oxygen to ignite forming the great ball of fire. This sets the stage for the main act…

An innocent pool fire was formed in the middle of the cylinder… nothing fancy. However, as the hot air from the fire starts to rise, assisted by the extraction fan at the top of the cylindern,…the magic begins. The upward movement of the air within the column causes the make-up air lining the bottom of the cylinder to rush in. However, due to geometry of the vanes which are orientated to a single direction around the cylinder, the air rushing in forms a swirling motion to the air within the column… giving rise to a tornado effect all the way through the column. The fire tornado mesmerised the audience as it drew to extraordinary heights accompanied by dramatic music. It was an awesome sight to see a majestic vortex of fire towering within the column. However, as the audience were invited to touch the walls of the column after the fire has been extinguished, the heat felt from the glass walls of the column serves as a reminder of how deadly such fire tornadoes could be in the open.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (3)

IMG_9551

Fire tornadoes may occur in bush fires and forest fires given the right wind conditions. They are typically very dangerous and cannot be controlled as they have the potential to cause extensive fire spread and pose danger to fire fighters. As mentioned by Gerard in his earlier summer post, wildfires are posing increasing threats especially in the summer. Coupled with the danger of fire tornados, these wildfire could be potentially more deadly than imagined. Fortunately, such occurrences are still rare as it requires an ideal set of factors to form in place…. see below for a short clip on a real life fire tornado in Australia…

As I continue my search for more fiery adventures this summer, hope you would also take time to search around for any fiery titbits you could find around your home town. Even if its a lame exhibition or a cliche museum, there is always avenues for us to learn more about fire around us….

IMFSE Tenses: Past, Present & Future

TENSES. A term used by my varsity team to describe the convergence of past, present and future generations. As we reach a crossroads of our IMFSE adventure this summer, this convergence becomes apparent as our seniors transit from present students to the alumni, our juniors who form the future of IMFSE prepare themselves to join the IMFSE present family and us, class of 2017? Well,…. we are and will still be part of the present as we try to soak as much as of the IMFSE experience for the remaining year as best as we can before we too follow the footsteps of those before us…

2 weeks ago, our seniors gathered in Gent for their graduation ceremony. As much as I would love to, I could not be there 😦 but thankfully, we had live updates from our reporters on site, Gerard and Kristi. I’m sure you will here more about the event from them but for me, this graduation ceremony although not ours, marks a significant milestone in our journey with IMFSE. It’s an indication that as much as this journey had been awesome so far, it too shall end and now we have a responsibility to live up to the legacy that our seniors left behind.

They have been great role models and helped us through whenever we had doubts with: be it assignments, thesis selection, settling down in a new country (which includes where to open bank account, which is the best accommodation…) or even tips on our the best places to eat/visit/chill. Even though I wished I was able to spend more time with them, they have always been welcoming towards us and it was always a blast to be around them. From being impressed with their theses work (though Juan made us walk through a corridor over and over again like lab rats, his Kinect programme to help in evacuation research is truly amazing!!!) to giving me the guts to glide high in the Scotland skies (thanks Arjan!), they embodied the whole IMFSE experience be it in the academic field or just enjoying the experience as it comes. As seniors, they also formed a comforting family especially when I was stressed up with exams by reaching out to encourage me even if they are miles away. As we say goodbye to an amazing batch of graduates, we wish them all the best for their future endeavours and sincerely thank them for a memorable year.

So what now? Honestly, we feel like we are in a limbo and about 2 months from now we too shall be seniors to a new batch of IMFSE students and we hope to live up to the standards of those before us. This summer break also gave us a taste of how it would be when we graduate and leave our separate ways since most of us are scattered all around the world right now. Some of us are back at home (which is literally all across the globe) or starting out our internships. After a year together, it feels surreal to be away from friends who have become like family to me during the year abroad. Thankfully, with the advent of technology, we could still have group chats together online to catch up (though no more UNO games sadly). However, reality remains that our semester of convergence in Lund is over and our batch will be splitting again. As half of our journey is over and another half begins, we start to appreciate each other and also the experience as a whole more. One year left, guys! May we have a fruitful yet memorable year ahead!

To the new batch of students, are you feeling nervous? Clueless about what is going to happen? Well, this was us a year back…

Excited but apprehensive, just like how you would probably be starting out. However, if you think we have got everything sorted out… not really. Everyday, a new adventure awaits! All we can say is that WE SURVIVED somehow by sticking by each other and enjoyed every moment of it and we hope you do too. So relax and look forward to a brand new adventure with us here in IMFSE!!!

 

Do you want to be a Brandman?

If you are wondering what is a Brandman, it is actually Swedish for fireman. As a sequel to Gerard’s post on our visit to Södra Älvsborg’s Rescue Service Federation and RISE, I shall now feature our next BRIGHT and HOT visit (it was literally a bright and hot day since Spring has officially started and we are closing in on Summer) to MSB College Revinge!!!

MSB stands for Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap (try pronouncing that correctly…) which means the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency. It is steered by the Swedish Government and is responsible for issues concerning civil protection, public safety, emergency management and civil defence. Their college in Revinge is one of the MSB facilities that provide education and training to budding brandmän and brandingenjörer (firemen and fire engineers) before they enter the field of duty. This provided all firefighters with the same qualifications and common ground before they join the fire stations which are developed according to the community it serves. To provide you with a better understanding on the training that goes on in MSB Revinge, here’s a little clip that showcases some of the training facilities available in Revinge:

During our visit, we were able to witness the exercises for station officers. Our first stop was a simulation of a fire in an industrial area. The exercise was particularly interesting as the trainers went to much length to ensure the exercise was as close to reality as possible. This included a back story that was just enough for the trainees to understand the context but not too detailed in order to leave room for the trainees to discover upon reaching the scene on the course of action. From arriving on scene, questioning the survivors (who were trainers acting as workers from the factory) to obtain more information on the situation, exploring possible points of entry for rescue and strategising rescue operation … the trainees were basically left on their own to manoeuvre the operation. The sense of ownership and responsibility placed on these trainees even during training is important for them to develop situational awareness and independence when approached with real life scenarios in the future. By the way, if you are expecting firemen to act like those in the movies with a flurry of dramatic action and people running here and there shouting orders, you will be amazed at how professionally firemen conducted themselves in real life. There was a methodological way in which firemen approached situations from studying the building and its surroundings and weighing their course of action. One wrong move could prove deadly both to the victims and the firemen themselves. The way the trainees conducted themselves with a sense of calm yet maintaining a sense of urgency gives us a sense of assurance of their reliability when they are fully qualified and enter the field.

We then made a slight detour where we witness trainee rescuers attend to a railway incident which involves survivors trapped in a flipped over, derailed train. Our hearts when to the trainees as they had to work within a confined space (inside the train compartment) in sweltering heat wearing thick insulating uniform. At the same time they were carefully stretchering people (and here I mean REAL life humans… acting as the injured passengers of the train) out of the train through small openings on the train and had to use heavy machinery too. We tried out handling some of these equipment and it was no easy feat… Hats off to them and other rescuers all over the world. We salute your hard work and sacrifice…

After a short break and a tour around the station, its time for the next fire scenario: a fire in a hotel. As the trainees arrived on scene and worked their way through the obstacle, we were reunited with an old friend whom has guided us through our lab sessions back in Lund University. Remember Kate’s blog post where she introduced Prof. Stefan Svensson, our lab mentor? Well, he is now in MSB training the future of Sweden’s fire fighting squad. Although he was acting as the police in the scenario (the trainees should identify when scenarios would require police involvement… its not always just about fighting fire), Professor Stefan took some time to explained to us how we should internalize witnessing these exercises into our future work as fire safety engineers. We are often pre-occupied on how to design a building resistant to fire but do we put enough consideration on the impact of our design to the operational needs of the fire fighters when a fire actually occur?

The visit proved to be an eye-opening experience as we are able to witness first hand what fire fighters go through in their call of duty. We have a greater appreciation for the sacrifices that fire fighter go through in their operation and how fire engineers should take into account their needs to facilitate their work towards the same goal… saving lives. Much thanks to MSB Revinge for providing us with the rare but valuable opportunity to visit their facility and witness their exercises. Thank you for the kind hospitality and we will  definitely carry the lessons learnt through to our future careers. Tack så mycket!!! 🙂

IMG_9297