Behind every mask is a person
An interview with Vera
Vera is a big sister, little sister, daughter, godmother, aunt to six nieces and nephews, market manager, champion markswoman, SCBA mask wearer, the love of her partner's life and much more...
When did you join the voluntary fire service?
I have been a member of Altmoorhausen voluntary fire service since May 2019. What made you want to join the voluntary fire service? That's my little sister's fault! She was already a member and when I was going through a rough patch after break-up, she wanted to find a way to distract me. It worked! One evening, a fire engine from Altmoorhausen fire service pulled up outside my front door. The chief fire officer drove me to the fire service's tech headquarters in Ganderkesee, where we watched a chemical protection drill. It was so exciting! I was immediately interested in joining up.
What training courses have you completed, aside from basic firefighter training 1?
I did my C/CE class driving test with the fire service so that I could drive the fire engines. I also did my SCBA wearer course almost a year ago now. Then I did the digital radio course and just recently, I did the advanced course for the SCBA safety watch. Soon, I will complete basic firefighter training 2. I would like to do the engineer and watch supervisor courses as well. Then, hopefully it will be time for the real fire training. Aside from that, I'd like to do the SCBA technician course. We must not underestimate the cancer risk from fire. We must protect everyone in the fire service. I'm also about to do a course on first aid for infants.
What level of risk taking is required as a firefighter? Does being a woman come with any advantages?
Being a firefighter is definitely exciting. We have seen several large fires in the last few years. The first thing to do is always look after yourself. But, in the fire service, nobody goes anywhere alone. There are always at least two of us. We always act collectively. I have to do just as the men do. I am not treated any differently. That's how it should be. We are a team and we support one another.
What would you like to see in day-to-day operations in the fire service? What would make your days easier as volunteer firefighters?
We have up-to-date vehicles and we're very well equipped. I would like to see civilians continue to respect us and a little more understanding for what it's like when the siren goes at night for a call-out, for example. This is voluntary work here in Germany, i.e. we don't get paid! Members of the volunteer fire service are available for their community 24 hours a day. If the community could not cover the necessary fire and rescue services with volunteers, then a conscription system would have to be put in place.
‘We must not underestimate the cancer risk from fire. We must protect everyone in the fire service.’
What do you do for a living?
I am a market manager at Raiffeisen. I completed my training in wholesale and export management at RWG Hunte - Weser eG. These days, it's mostly office work. We're a great team and our customers always come first.
What do you do to recharge?
I try to jog twice a week to clear my head. My partner and I enjoy spending time in the garden, planning new projects and making them happen. We also enjoy spending time with our friends. We always make time to play poker or board games. And I try to go for shooting practice once every 2 weeks.
Are you a member of a shooting club?
I have been since I was little! My whole family are in the shooting club. I even won the last championship! Village life is extremely important to us – we are all here for one another. I am lucky to have a partner who enjoys living here and values the village community as much as I do.
It's a good job! Otherwise, with your full diary, he'd never see you. When do you get your alone time in?
She laughs. He gets out and about a lot, too! He is in the Dingstede voluntary fire service. We mostly get alone time when we go on holiday. We take the car and love the freedom of being in a different place each day, sleeping in our rooftop tent. It's how we explored Germany, then last year we went to Norway, and next year, we're hoping to go to Sweden.
Vera, what past event are you still grateful for?
I am grateful for my family's health, for my friends and for everyone who is important to me.
If you could instantly get rid of a bad habit, what would it be?
She laughs. I can often be a bit clumsy. If I'm sitting around the table with family or friends and a glass spills, it is pretty likely that it was me who knocked it over. They all know: ‘Vera again!’
Do you have a current film or book recommendation?
I like to read and watch thrillers. I would recommend books by Sebastian Fitzek and the TV series The Blacklist.
Imagine this: starting tomorrow, you don't have to go to work to earn your income. What would you do with your time?
I would use that time for my family. I would go on holiday often with my partner, with our car and rooftop tent, of course. I would undertake some home improvements, build a canopy over the terrace and a fire pit in the garden.
If firefighters use courses to keep themselves up to date like Vera does, they are better able to protect themselves and others from cancer. Would you also like further training? The MEIKO Academy offers training courses in respiratory protection technology and hygiene. Contact us, we will be happy to advise you!