Ten questions for a fireman

Ten questions for fireman Godwin Sghendo

Ten questions for fireman Godswin Sghendo
Ten questions for fireman Godswin Sghendo
Ten questions for a fireman

Why did you become a fireman?

It’s a nice job. It’s dangerous, but it’s a nice job.

How many fires do you deal with on a daily basis?

Right now, during winter, not that regularly. We deal with eight to ten fires daily. When the heat starts to increase, the problems start. We deal with twenty to twenty-five easy.

Is working as a fireman boring in Malta?

Never. You can’t say it’s boring, it’s a different kind of job. Sometimes you have any accident here, sometimes you have a cat stuck there.

Photo by James Bianchi
Photo by James Bianchi

What do you do when you’re on standby?

In the morning, they perform a vehicle check, first thing in the morning. Then they clean the site, and after some time they are at leisure. Some people read a book, others take care of animals. On some stations, they have dogs and cats. When something happens, then everyone gets on the job.

Are you ever called to save cats from trees?

It’s not the first time it’s happened. From trees, to places I don’t know how they to. It’s impossible to get to. Drainpipes... and you end up having to break tiles, meaning yes, cats are a piece of work.

Can women do this job?

They can, yes. In fact, a group of women have just applied, and we have some with us that are capable of tearing down things even better than I do.

Would you risk your life to save an animal?

The norm is that every life takes first priority, but it depends on the intensity of the flames, and what you are risking sending two firemen into the burning wreckage. You have to see whether you would be sending in a fireman to save an animal and instead of bringing out a dead animal, you bring out a dead animal and two dead firemen. But, animals are a priority, yes.

Photo by James Bianchi
Photo by James Bianchi

Have you ever seen a dead body inside a burning house?

No, personally I haven’t, but a dead person inside a car accident wreckage, yes. Road traffic accidents, but it’s impossible remembering everything. You can’t erase it from your mind, because you still keep recalling the face, especially if it’s a serious accident. You keep remembering that scene all your life. On the other hand, you can’t make it hinder you from doing your job, or else you might as well stop.

What does a burning body smell like?

You smell the smell of meat, and it’s peculiar, it’s not enjoyable that’s for sure.

Have you ever been injured on duty?

We were working on a truck, in a site, we were changing some material, checking if it’s dangerous or hazardous material, and we had some big plastic sheets – eight feet by eight. We were packing up, and we were ready from work, when the wind picked up, and we were placing the plastic sheets on the truck. One of the sheets got carried away by the wind, I was standing on it, and it threw me across. It hurled me at the truck’s length in distance, and lifted me around 12 feet in the air. I landed sideways, and my arm got caught under me. I broke a wrist, which was the least of my problems, and I tore my kidney and spleen, and made a considerable amount of damage.

Why did you come back?

My place is here. You can’t give up. Once I got back on my feet, for me that means I can work. The problem would have been if I couldn’t get up from bed.

How do you feel leaving your family at home?

It’s not easy and it’s not difficult, it’s just work. Others go to work in an office, we go to work on fire engines and in my case in the control room, meaning its work like any type of other work. There is a higher risk and a more danger in what we do. You can’t lay down your arms because you got injured

What was the worst case you have ever witnessed?

Road traffic accident, an individual crashed into a tree, during the night. Luckily a woman driving behind him saw the crash, or else no one would have realised about the accident. He got flung so deep into the trees, his face was covered in blood, but it’s not something you dream about, it’s part of the job let’s put it this way. You either accept it, or else you don’t work here.

What was the worst case a colleague has been involved in?  

One of my friends… They lost control of the truck, crashed into a wall, he got flung out of the vehicle and the windscreen, fell three storeys, onto the rocks, landed with his face in the sea. It could have been worse for him. He spent a long time in hospital. When I saw him in hospital, the sadness I felt…