Brazilian firefighters learn the ropes in Newton, Kansas fire departments

Firefighters hope to bring training, volunteerism ideas back to Brazil

Captains Moacir Porfiro, left, and Anderson Silvia, visited Newton last week as a part of a Partners of the Americas exchange program. The firefighters spent three days training with the Newton Fire/EMS Department.


The Newton Kansan
Posted May 12, 2008 @ 09:54 AM


Two firefighters from Brazil who are visiting Kansas want to find ways to increase the number of qualified firefighters in their country. Captains Moacir Porfiro and Anderson Silvia, both from the state of Penambuco, Brazil, have spent the last several weeks learning how the Kansas fire system works. They spent three days last week with the Newton Fire/EMS Department. “We are getting a pretty good idea of how to improve training, and we want to do everything possible to change,” he said. Both men have been in the fire service since the 1990s and have military service records. In Brazil, the fire service is state-run, and has no volunteers. Porfiro said he was interested in how the Kansas fire service uses volunteers. In Penambuco, a fire service of 2,415 paid firefighters serves 8.5 million people. In Kansas, a fire service of 3,600 firefighters serves a population of 2.5 million people. Eighty percent of Kansas’ fire/EMS force is volunteer. “The lesson that we have learned is that firefighters, the society and community have to grow up together,” Porfiro said. “Being a volunteer firefighter is a question of citizenship.” Another difference between the two countries is the absence of paramedics in Brazil. There, emergency services are divided into first responders and doctors and nurses who respond directly to emergency situations. The Brazilian firefighters are visiting Kansas as a part of a Partners of the Americas exchange. In addition to spending time with local fire departments, the two men took a fire training course at Hutchinson Community College and attended the Kansas State Firefighters Association Conference in Topeka. Porfiro said he was impressed how the different departments in the state communicated and worked together on issues of laws and public safety. The Brazilian firefighters will be training in fire, EMS, special services, hazardous materials, rescue, inspections and public education. Newton Fire/EMS Chief Gary Denny said the firefighters went out on both fire and EMS calls while the men where in Newton. “We will emphasize service delivery for a suburban size fire department,” he said. Kansas was chosen by the program for the exchange because of its high level of disaster preparedness. Both men toured Greensburg while they were in Kansas. Although Brazil is not subject to tornadoes, the state of Penambuco has an extensive coastline and is subject to flooding. “We need the same system of civil defense,” Porfiro said. “It is important that we work together and share our experiences.” The Brazilian men said they were impressed the city of Greensburg was rebuilding so quickly. Silvia said he saw at Greensburg how important a quick response was to saving lives. Silvia, who is an instructor is his native country, said he hopes to work with other emergency personnel to decrease response times. Both men said they hoped the visit to Kansas would be the beginning of continuing exchange of ideas. “We want this to be a big partnership between Penambuco and Kansas,” Porfiro said. “I think it is a good idea the Partners of the Americas has given us an opportunity for this.”

Submitted by Steve & Lorraine Richards


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