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Volunteer firefighter marks five years of service

28 Nov, 2019 | published at 17:04 CET

Tobias Lorke

A volunteer firefighter who is on call 24/7 alongside his work for one of Europe’s leading poolers of sustainable wooden pallets is marking five years in the life-saving role.

Tobias Lorke, customer service manager for IPP Germany, volunteers with the fire brigade in the city of Halver, covering the village of Oberbrügge and the surrounding outlands.

The brigade also provides support in the event of major emergencies in the region, such as a huge forest fire in Wixberg last year, which was made even more dangerous by the discovery of Second World War munitions on the site.

Tobias has worked for IPP Germany since December 2017, where he is responsible for operations and commercial services for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

He combines this with the role of Oberfeuerwehrmann (rear fireman) with the fire brigade, a position he started in 2014 following an open day held in his village.

It is a 24/7, 365 day a year role, meaning Tobias can be called upon at any time, even when he is at work.

He said his volunteering was very different to his day job, as he is taking orders rather than making decisions.

Tobias said: “I have a lot of responsibility in my job at IPP and have to make a lot of decisions, but the fire department is the absolute opposite. I have to do what I have learned and not decide myself.

“It is a technically sophisticated role and a necessary and important job. It is also a good feeling to be able to help people, as you feel special gratitude. That makes me satisfied and a little proud.”

Tobias took part in six weeks of basic training, divided into two weeks’ theory and four weeks’ practice, before starting active work with the brigade.

“After the basic training, you take part in different training courses with different focal points which, little by little, make you a better trained firefighter,” he added.

“I am a trained respirator wearer, which means I can now go into a fire. I also completed a lot of different technical courses, such as using a chainsaw to cut really big trees, cutting cars open and first aid courses.”

Tobias said it was down to a combination of support from his family and his employer that he is able to carry out the role successfully.

He said: “I am very grateful to my family, who understand why I do this and often have to do without me.

“I’m also grateful to IPP, as sometimes I have to leave the office if my beeper is ringing for an emergency call.

“It is an all-encompassing volunteer job. You have to love it - it is a big responsibility you carry.”

Tobias Lorke