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Fire appliances to carry translation booklets 27 November 2008

CFO Brian Draper with translation bookletTRANSLATION booklets will be carried in all front line fire appliances in the Island as part of a new community safety initiative.

The aim is to help firefighters deal with situations where language barriers may hinder their response to an operational incident. The booklets, which are being introduced across every local fire station, feature six basic questions that have been translated into 15 different languages. This will allow crucial details to be gathered from people for whom English is not their first language.

Firefighters will use the booklets by encouraging individuals to indicate their preferred language by pointing to a national flag inside the front cover. Using the selected translation and a series of illustrations, people will then be able to convey information such as which room a fire is in and if anybody is still trapped inside the building.

The initiative has been launched by the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service after being successfully implemented in areas of the UK. Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper developed the idea locally after recognising the benefits during discussions with other CFOs at a national conference.

He said:

‘The introduction of the translation booklets reflects the increased ethnic diversity of the Island’s population and the possibility of experiencing language barriers at operational incidents. While we haven’t encountered any problems to date, this is a pro-active drive to reinforce our safety commitment to local residents. The booklets are intended as a first response measure to help establish key information before firefighters enter a burning building. This will cut down on any delays in dealing with an incident and thereby improve the safety of both the occupants and fire crews.’

Fifteen different languages – mostly Eastern European and Asian – are covered in the booklets which will be carried on all major pumping appliances.

George Waft, the political member of the Department of Home Affairs with responsibility for the Fire Service, said:

‘Many foreign nationals living and working in the Island speak excellent English. However, other family members or friends may not be so fluent and these booklets will enable those people to provide quick and accurate information in the event of a fire. For instance, by referring to the illustrations in the booklet, people will be able to indicate whether a chip pan or electrical fault is responsible. This in turn will assist the officer in charge to carry out a dynamic risk assessment and formulate an appropriate plan of action. If one life is saved as a result, these translation booklets will have proved their worth many times over.’

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