Few professions require as much courage, dedication, and selflessness as firefighting. These brave men and women put their lives on the line daily to protect their communities and keep us safe from harm. And nowhere is this dedication more evident than in the recent participation of Ukrainian firefighters in the FDIC 2023 H.O.T.
For those needing to become more familiar, the FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) is the largest gathering of firefighters in the world. The H.O.T. (Hands-On Training) program is one of the most intense and demanding training programs available. It’s organized to put firefighters through their paces, testing their skills and endurance to the limit and preparing them for the most challenging situations they may face.
Over several grueling days, all the firefighters tackled various challenges, from high-angle rescues to confined space operations to live-fire exercises. They shared their knowledge and experience and forged bonds of friendship and camaraderie that would last a lifetime. For example, they worked in conditions after the accident or practiced reconnaissance, fire extinguishing, and searching for people in smoky rooms. Sometimes dirty, exhausted, but excited — all these photos can prove it!
We practiced with the most incredible professionals, which was a helpful experience. Various dangers, algorithms of behavior, rules, and, of course, fantastic equipment. My colleague Roma Kachanov and I face many of these situations daily in Ukraine, so we did our best and got best marks from the trainers, – says Serhii Bilous, Chief of Guard No. 8 in Kharkiv’s fire and rescue division.
And finally, they emerged stronger, more skilled, and more confident than ever. Our firefighters will return to Ukraine with a wealth of new knowledge and experience that they could use to serve their communities better and keep their fellow citizens safe from harm. But they also bring something more intangible: a sense of pride, accomplishment, and belonging to a brotherhood and sisterhood of firefighters that transcends borders, cultures, and languages.