NFPA senior instructors Bob Caputo and Russ Leavitt are no strangers to surprises when they travel but on a recent trip to the Netherlands, both instructors were challenged with a new challenge; a barn fire.
NFPA regularly teams up with Tom Denooij from Marsh Risk Consulting to host training seminars in the Netherlands and across Europe. Tom's title is senior consultant for Marsh Risk Consulting but he is also a senior instructor for NFPA and was the driving force behind NFPA Eurocon 2012. Tom arranged a training week in Rotterdam starting on May 13, 2013 for NFPA 13, 20 & 25 with Caputo and Leavitt as instructors. On this particular trip, Denooij had a special surprise for Caputo and Leavitt.
On Wednesday evenings in Rotterdam, Denooij adds another title - Volunteer fire chief for his hometown station - PostMijnsheerenland /Westmaas. During this training week in May, 2013 Caputo and Leavitt were invited to don firefighting gear including breathing apparatus to respond to a fire at a nearby farmhouse. The 911 call came in saying there was a smoke in the barn and two of the home's occupants were probably still in the barn. The chief ordered his team to sweep the building for occupants with Leavit's group entering the building from the right and Caputo's group entering from the left. The two teams found the occupants and guided them to safety.
For Caputo and Leavitt, the exercise was a way to connect the material they teach to the actual experience of fighting a fire in Europe. A fire in the US is the same as everywhere else in the world but to understand how different constituents deal with fire suppression is vital for NFPA instructors. It allows code translation from the users perspective. Denooij hopes this is a first step to create global standards. For Caputo and Leavitt, it's an experience they can share with their students.