Behind every mask is a person
An interview with Finn
Finn is a green-fingered tech freak. He likes to work with with others behind the curtain, leaving the showstopping moments to other people. He is group leader, making him the man to talk to about all things hygiene at his fire service. And his message is clear.
Finn, you are very active in the voluntary fire service. Why is that?
I had friends who took me along to the voluntary fire service in 2016. I spent a day looking round and decided to get involved very quickly. I like helping other people and enjoy working with technology. Plus, I like the camaraderie and it helps me to switch off.
What do you do for a living?
I am self employed. My brother and I run an event tech company together.
You must be on the road a lot. Do you have the ability to travel to fire responses?
I am on the road a lot, but rarely for two or three weeks at a time.
What is your role within the fire service?
I am watch supervisor and was selected as the group leader at the start of 2023. Every since I joined the fire service, I have been interested in the issue of hygiene. Here, I am the person to talk to. The statistics show that firefighters have a higher risk of developing cancer. I want to keep that risk as low as possible.
So you are the right person to talk to about cancer risk?
Absolutely. I deal with questions and education. Most of my colleagues know that the fumes that we are exposed to on call-outs are very bad for our health. But I still have to keep repeating, over and over again, how easy it is to carry soot particles on your skin. They make it home unnoticed and even into the living room or a child's bedroom. We have to stop that.
What do you do to combat it? What is your hygiene protocol?
We have been using colour coding since 2018. When our colleagues come in from a call-out, two others are there in disposable full-body suits and BA masks to help them remove their personal protective equipment. Uncontaminated SCBA sets go in green bags. PPE from normal call-outs is stored in yellow bags. That's things like bin fires, domestic fires and roof timber fires. If asbestos or other high-risk substances were present at the site of the fire, everything is packed into red sacks. For particularly tough fires with high levels of toxins, we call a specialist company. Once the protective equipment is packed away in air-tight containers, we take it to a specialist laundry and the respiratory protective components, along with all the tubing, goes to the fire service's technical hub in Ganderkesee. Of course, disposable suits are hardly eco-friendly so we are in the process of looking for alternatives. There is always something to improve but, all in all, our hygiene protocol is a good one.
‘Prevention is better than a cure, precaution is better than hindsight.’
What do you do to recharge?
Tree care. I get outdoors and it forces me to slow down. It's the opposite of my job in the events industry and my work in the fire service. Sometimes I just go away for a day or two spontaneously.
You're a tree surgeon? Is that a second hobby, alongside the fire service?
It's another string to my bow. I've been doing it on the side for a few years now and during lockdown, I set up a new company offering tree services. It was a way to help me through that tough time. Then it grew well and now I'd like to take it further. The two complement each other well: in summer, I'm out on gigs and events, then from October to February, I take care of the trees.
And firefighting wasn't an option as a profession?
The fire service is my main hobby, for sure. But if I had to do it day in and day out, I wouldn't have the same spring in my step on my way to the station.
What past event are you grateful for?
Grateful isn't the right word but the pandemic certainly left its mark. My brother and I founded our company in 2018. In 2019, we had a good number of bookings. In 2020, the booking calendar was full and then every event was cancelled. Now I know that I have to plan for the unimaginable. I plan more cautiously and more long term. We think very carefully now about whether and how much we should invest in new kit.
What celebrity would you like to meet?
Nobody. I work with celebrities a lot. They're just normal people. Some believe their own hype, the fame goes to their heads. Someone I would like to have seen in concert is Udo Jürgens. He really achieved a lot and was pretty multi-talented when it came to music. I'm not actually a fan of schlager music, but he achieved a lot and put on a great show.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Do you have a current film or book recommendation?
I can't actually remember when I last read a book! Or went to the cinema. I watch whatever's on on the TV. If I want to know something, I watch YouTube explainer videos, like product introduction videos.
What social media do you use?
Instagram and Facebook, but I'm not very active. I use them occasionally.
Where did you last go on holiday?
I went to Tenerife with my girlfriend in March. We watched dolphins and went on a submarine! The yellow submarine took us 35 m below the surface, where we had a clear view of this beautiful underwater world and a huge variety of fish.
Finn wants to keep the cancer risk as low as possible for himself and his colleagues. Soot particles have to be thoroughly removed to stop them finding a way into firefighters' homes, their living rooms and children's bedrooms. MEIKO has solutions for this.