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Safety first – or: I’m going to be a firefighter!

How much time do firefighters have to get into their full gear and be ready to deploy? What do firefighters actually do when nothing is on fire? Safety always comes first. This not only applies to every OMV employee – it also holds true for their little ones.

28 April 2016 was the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. A good opportunity to focus on this issue, as one thing is certain at OMV, day in, day out: Safety First.

Health and safety are important issues in our industry. At the end of the day we all want to get home safely – whether we work on an oil rig, at a refinery or in an office. To ensure that safe work practices are a matter of course, we want to familiarize our littlest ones with this issue…
Pia Car, Organizer of the Blue-light series, OMV Aktiengesellschaft

Blue-light series

We are not talking about the latest crime thriller on TV, even though it may sound like it. The “Blue-light series” is a project by a group of OMV employees who have a special interest in health and safety at work. A team, headed up by Pia Car, has dedicated itself to raising awareness of health and safety among the very youngest by organizing workshops in the Vienna OMV Kindergarten. And because people usually only remember properly what they have seen and experienced in person, the team took 20 children to the company fire station at the Gänserndorf site. “Our colleagues from the OMV fire brigade gave it their all and really made an impression on the children by showing them what happens in an emergency – of course, they also showed what has to be done to avoid any emergency taking place”, says Pia Car.

Visiting the fire brigade

“Here in Gänserndorf 31 colleagues work as full-time firefighters. In addition there are 28 OMV colleagues who are part-time fire fighters and if there’s an emergency they will leave their usual work as metalworkers or electricians”, explains Herbert Tuchny, who has been at OMV for 37 years, where he has worked for the corporate fire brigade for 33 of these years. Today he is the Chief of the fire brigade and so in the case of emergency he is responsible for the safety of 1,200 probes, 130 stations and 120 electrical installations for OMV in Lower and Upper Austria.

Training for emergencies

But what does the fire brigade do when nothing is on fire? “For our people this means training, maintenance, further education and professional development. You need regular practice in handling the technical equipment, i.e. pumps, fire hoses, breathing apparatus, climbing gear and rescue equipment”, explains Herbert Tuchny. “Checking the 2,800 fire extinguishers also takes a bit of time…” Theory lessons are held monthly, along with practical exercises; they also have training on a dedicated practice range in extinguishing so-called high-pressure gas fires.

You have to have great physical fitness to be a firefighter. The protective clothing and equipment weights 24 to 28 kilos in total – you have to get all of that on within two minutes.
Herbert Tuchny, Chief of the Gänserndorf Fire Brigade, OMV Austria

Besides all this training, it’s likely that the children’s visit was a really nice change of scenery. “At the beginning we came across as a bit scary when we drove up in our full gear with flashing blue lights. But it’s important that the children know that in an emergency there is a person underneath the helmet and the gear, a person who wants to help them – so they don’t need to be scared”, says  Herbert Tuchny.

Of course, a “Blue-light series” is not complete without ambulance and police. This is why the kids not only visited the corporate fire station in Gänserndorf, but also the works ambulance team in Schwechat Refinery and got to know a traffic police officer on an excursion with the Vienna police force. “The three mornings were very educational, not just for the kids, but also for us adults”, concludes Pia.

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