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Palermo (Italy) Fire Department Named "International Firefighting Team of the year 2013"

Date: 2013-12-02
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International Report

The Palermo Fire Department, Italy, was awarded the title of “International Firefighting Team of the year 2013”, winning the Conrad Dietrich Magirus award 2013, assigned by Iveco Magirus Brandschutztechnik GmbH.

Firefighting teams from different countries all over the world competed for the title “Firefighting Team of the Year” and handed in their best emergency interventions.  The ceremony took place at the Congress Centrum in Ulm (Germany), the trophy was assigned to the Palermo Fire Department, followed by Botosani Fire Department (Romania) and Mooskirchen, Steinberg, Ligist Fire Department (Austria) in third place. “For us, this was a very special event, first of all because we welcomed so many deserving firefighters here today, from Germany and from other countries, then because this was a celebration for people who put their life on the line for us on a daily basis in emergency situations. The Conrad Dietrich Magirus award intends to thank and celebrate what firefighters do for us ” said Antonio Benedetti, Managing Director of Iveco Magirus,  a manufacturer of vehicles and equipment for fire safety and disaster management, and a market leader in turntable ladders.

During the ceremony, over 600 invited guests learned about the full range of tasks that firefighters are confronted with on a day-to-day basis. Some of the candidates for the 2013 award described extraordinary missions, ranging from a stubborn forest fire to the tricky rescue of a family stranded on high seas, and from severe snow storms to a fire in a highway tunnel. An international jury of experts put together a shortlist of ten emergency callouts from six different countries before the chosen finalists faced a second hurdle: a public online vote held on www.world-of-firefighters.com was to decide the ultimate winner.

Palermo Fire Department secured the most votes, based on a callout the team will never forget.  As fire chief Salvatore La Sala explained, there was a call to attend a four-story building to examine the structure – which in itself is not unusual in a city like Palermo with its historic center. However, the team quickly discovered on-site that the situation was far more serious. Cracks spread across the walls, and the stonework was crumbling. The fire department immediately began to evacuate the building, and just eight minutes later the entire building collapsed.

La Sala described the dramatic situation at the award ceremony: “There was a giant cloud of dust and debris. We could hear screams and were very concerned about the residents and our colleagues.” Thanks to their brave and rapid action, the Palermo Fire Department crew managed to rescue 15 people from the building. “Such a performance takes many years of experience and a well-established team of individuals who can rely on each other completely,” said Michel Bour, general secretary of the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services (CTIF), praising the crew on behalf of the jury. Antonio Benedetti also congratulated the winners before presenting them with the Conrad Dietrich Magirus statue together with Lars Riedel, Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion in discus. The fire departments of Botosani and Mooskirchen were presented with statues of honor for second and third place.

In addition to the statue, the winning team will travel to New York to visit the most well-known firefighting team in the world – the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY). There the Italian team will have the opportunity to learn all about the work of their American colleagues up close and in person. They will visit various fire stations, step aboard the world’s most modern fireboat, and experience how the US firefighters prepare for their work by attending a live training session at “The Rock” training academy.

Photo above © IVECO MAGIRUS

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (via Iveco Magirus, 11/28/13)

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