We put a lot of trust in our equipment

Gear that functions is the difference between life and death. For me, as an amateur mountaineerer, I have the same demands when I climb in the Himalayas.

“Houses made of wood burn at a steady rate and are predictable. Steel constructions are far more dangerous, steel gets hot and melts, which means the whole building collapses. This can occur from one second to the next.”

Johan Karlsson, 33, is a firefighter in Kungälv, west Sweden.

”Growing up, I always dreamed of becoming a fireman, and here I am. I have done this for all of my adult life, and I still love going to work every day.”

”Yes, there are a few clichés about us firefighters. One comes from Hollywood movies, and pictures a heroic, tough, and independent person who is willing to do just about anything to save someone’s life. Yes, those dramatic events do occur. Breathing apparatus rescue is a good example of drama. Before going in, we put on a smoke helmet, that allows us to breathe while we’re in the middle of the fire, searching for people. But our operations are always based on teamwork. You just don’t go solo.”

”The other cliché is less spectacular and is about rescuing cats out of trees. But they don’t really need to be rescued. Who has ever seen a cat skeleton in a treetop? When it’s hungry enough, it will find a way down on its own.”

”We put a lot of trust in our equipment. We have to. We’re exposed to pretty extreme temperatures, so our gear needs to be heavy duty. Leather boots with steel toe-caps. Sturdy jackets and pants with insulating layers inside the material. All of it. Gear that functions is the difference between life and death. For me, as an amateur mountaineerer, I have the same demands when I climb in the Himalayas.”

”So, the typical day of a firefighter, actually, there’s no such thing. That’s what I love about my job. There’s no way to know what’s going to happen.”

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