RUSSIAN FIREFIGHTERS Victor Kozelskii and Sergi Kvashnin work together to get through a door breaching mock-up during Thursday’s visit in Brunswick.

RUSSIAN FIREFIGHTERS Victor Kozelskii and Sergi Kvashnin work together to get through a door breaching mock-up during Thursday’s visit in Brunswick.

BRUNSWICK

Five Russian firefighters arrived at Emerson Fire Station on Thursday afternoon to talk with Southern Maine Community College’s Maine Fire Service Institute and familiarize themselves with training techniques.

Jim Graves, deputy director of the Maine Fire Service Institute, said the firefighters have been in Maine all week, visiting stations in Portland, Westbrook, Augusta and Scarborough. Graves said he hopes to present the visiting firefighters with a brief history of firefighting in America, as well as the training and certification process here.

The firefighters’ home is Archangel, in northwest Russia,

• JIM GRAVES, deputy director of Southern Maine Community College’s Maine Fire Service Institute, said the Russian firefighters have been in Maine all week, visiting stations in Portland, Westbrook, Augusta and Scarborough. and they came by way of work coordinated by the Archangel Committee, which has been developing sister-city relations with the Portland area since 1988.

The firefighters were first shown a trailer used to train firefighters in dealing with buildings with sprinklers and fire alarms. Next, they suited up, complete with self-contained breathing apparatus, to tackle the air management trailer. It’s like the fog machine from a 1980s rock show was turned on full in a camper-turned-darkened labyrinth.

While being briefed on the drill, a question was asked in Russian, prompting an interpreter to ask, “So, we’re not working as a team against the Americans?”

Three firefighters were joined in the trailer by two Brunswick firefighters as they felt their way through multiple levels of the maze.

Viktor Kozelskii, leader of the Fire and Rescue Team, said afterward they have exactly the same training machine in Russia, but theirs is not mobile. When asked if he felt claustrophobic in the tight maze, Kozelskii laughed, saying that’s a feeling he hasn’t experienced for many years.

When he emerged from the fog-laden trailer, the dummy “victim” was brought to Kozelskii as his fellow firefighters laughed. Kozelskii faked beginning rescue efforts, bringing even more amused responses from all the firefighters present.

Kozelskii said that they have only seen demonstrations and have yet to see any real-life scenarios, so it’s difficult to say how different techniques are between the Russian and American firefighters.

Kozelskii said in conversations with different departments, he finds that basic techniques and approaches to firefighting are the same and that the exchange of knowledge that has taken place helps everyone in their work.

Finding kinship in the profession, Kozelskii said in the time he has spent with the Maine firefighters he notices the similarities and how they laugh at the same jokes together.

Fire Chief Ken Brillant agreed with the similarities, saying a firefighter is a firefighter no matter where they come from.

“We’re able to share our

experiences with them and they’re listening and they’re attentive and they’re able to try and share a little from their side,” Brillant said.

“You’ll find a lot of the things are similar. Maybe some of the equipment is just a little bit different. It’s technology and when you go over to Europe, it’s always just a little bit different — the take on things is a little bit different, but overall the basic fundamentals are the same,” Brillant added.

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