Essex Furukawa Fire Brigade Brings the Heat at Torreón Challenge

October 11, 2022

The next time you are on a virtual meeting be careful of your small talk. Maybe stick to weather in the area, because if you mention ‘putting out fires all day’ it could be taken literally.

A group of nine Essex Furukawa employees from the Torreón (Mexico) plant recently competed in an event — as a fire brigade. The event wasn’t just for fun and games — though it was fun, and there were games — it is also a very serious responsibility.

Antonio Chávez, Alfredo Rucobo, Christian Salinas, Eduardo Ornelas, Roberto Silos, Julio Cesar Hernández, Rubén Ramírez, Oscar González, Francisco Navarrete all have their respective roles within the plant. They have also volunteered for the additional responsibility of being the first responders. Each have been trained by professional firefighters and can react appropriately if a fire were to break out inside the Torreón facility.

Each man recently put that training to the test.

The Firefighter Challenge 2022, Civil Protection took place late in the summer. During the Challenge, different activities were showcased. Most all were to highlight the real firefighting work done in the field, only this time by the civilian brigades alongside their professional counterparts. In each event the contestants were fully outfitted with equipment that a firefighter must use and showcased the skills they have learned.

The challenge included these events: break down a locked door; perform a rescue in confined spaces; climb a 1.8-meter wall; lift a 65kg tire; drag an injured person to safety; scale a tower, and complete a zigzag run.

This was the first time the Essex Furukawa team had competed in the annual event. Each man had trained and were in excellent physical condition, and by all accounts it was a success.

Ernesto Woessner, the HR Manager at the plant, said that the group enjoyed the experience and plans to compete again.

“There was a lot of support from the families of the competitors,” he said. “The overall environment was friendly, but competitive. They also enjoyed getting to know another brigade teams.”

The Essex Furukawa team finished fifth overall, of more than 16 teams. It placed behind three groups of professional firefighters and the fire brigade from a neighboring company in the region.

The Torreón plant is located in a somewhat isolated region of Torreón City. The in-house fire brigade is not a novelty act, it is a necessity. The role the employees play in the safety of others is not to be understated.

Historically, manufacturing companies in the United States—including Essex Furukawa—also had to rely on an in-house solution for fires. These fire brigades were created to help limit loss when a blaze would break out in remote areas. It was most common for businesses whose location made it difficult for a municipality department to assist in extinguishing a blaze. The practice is still common in other countries, including Mexico.

Woessner said that the group had trained hard and was eager to showcase their skills. Adding that it would not be the last time.

“They want to continue participating in this type of event,” he said. “They’re very grateful with Essex Furukawa for the support they received and the confidence shown in them.”

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