Piergiorgio is a lifelong resident of Smirra, only five kilometers
from the fire station where he works. He has left his hometown region
only a few times, always in order to train and take the tests required
of Italian firemen.
had dreamed of becoming a firefighter ever since I was little
boy,” Piergiorgio explained with a dreamy look on his face.
one of the 3.2 million active firefighters in Europe, has to navigate
the small town roads designed for horse and buggies, not giant fire
engines. The fire station in Cagli, a medieval city in the Marche
region with about 10,000 people, receives an average of two calls
a day, approximately 600 calls per year.
Being a firefighter
in a peaceful, quiet town requires patience and passion. There are
long spans of time with no work or no time at all in between jobs.
we are not out, we watch TV, play pool or cook,” Piergiorgio
said. “At one point, one of the firefighters was a well-known
cyclist, who would train in the weight room during his free time.”
that the 28 professional firefighters provide range from the life-threatening
work of rescuing people from burning, smashed up cars to opening
locked doors and freeing cats from trees.
Giancarlo Caprini noted that the most difficult fires are those
that start in the forests.
in the woods is the biggest challenge because they last long and
are difficult to control,” he said.
The Cagli station
is responsible for 10 local towns including one town nearly 40 kilometers
away. Cagli is the largest town served.
The region originally
relied on the fire station in Pesaro, over an hour away.
During the 1930s,
as Cagli’s population grew, a local fire station was proposed.
The idea was approved by the state, which requires a station in
towns with populations that exceed 10,000.
Today, the Cagli
fire station has eight fire trucks located in an expansive garage.
Each truck is unique and has its own purpose.
The camper is
used for overnight trips, sometimes required when the firefighters
attend conferences in far away towns.
type of truck contains 3000 liters of water, hoses, a ladder, equipment
to fight chemical attacks, and seating and supplies for up to six
men. The station has two of these trucks.
of this vehicle can hold up to 6000 liters of water, but this truck
is used mainly to transport water to fire scenes.
The sixth truck
is for car accidents and is equipped to aid car accident victims
and to free them from their vehicles.
The last two
cars are normal looking, except for their bright red exteriors.
One, made by Land Rover, is used for off-roading. This vehicle is
most helpful when travel through the local forests and mountainous
regions is necessary. The smallest vehicle of the fleet is used
for errands such as grocery shopping.
For the most
part, the Cagli fire station is well equipped. However, when larger
support is needed, Cagli firemen call the Pesaro station.
is the capo squadra, or head of his six-man unit in Cagli.
He has been a firefighter for almost 30 years and is planning to
retire within the next few months. He is hoping to become the captain
of the entire fire station as he is interested in spending his remaining
months making sure the station is properly run.
is required to operate a fire station effectively. The men spend
up to 24 hours at a time at the station. During this time they are
responsible for preparing their own food and maintaining the skills
they have spent years perfecting.
In order to
become an Italian firefighter, applicants must pass an examination.
The test is given by the state when more firefighters are needed.
But the firemen
spend the majority of their days in the fire station. Occasionally,
they use their fire trucks and rescue equipment, but usually they
simply wait. They eat, drink, practice and bond with one another.
feels that strong relationships among the firemen are a key to being
successful in the field.
is very important to our job that we consider one another family,”