Fire Chief Silvio Ferratigo builds miniature paintings of fire brigades

Know. A container caught fire in a supermarket, an apartment on the top floor of an apartment building caught fire, dangerous goods leaked at a gas station – all these are classic situations for firefighters. Nine of these scenarios were recreated by fire chief Silvio Fratrigo on a voluntary basis using 1:87 scale model building forms and left to firefighters on so-called simulation boards as training materials at the fire station.

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480 members of the Lehrte fire brigade using mini-scenario

“About 480 members of the Lerter Fire Brigade will benefit from this work during their training,” says Lerther Deputy Chief Fire Officer Marco Beams. “We can use the scenarios on these boards to plan deployment tactics and learn how to avoid mistakes,” he says. In Baims’ opinion, not every fire department can afford this technology, which has long been used in fire brigade training. “That’s why we are so grateful to Silvio Fratrigo for his volunteer work.”

The fire in the attic is simulated using cotton wool: in a big city scenario, the turntable ladder is extended.

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Fraterrigo creates entire worlds in true 1:87 scale format with great attention to detail. He spent about 1,000 working hours in the basement of his home. Bring small town, big city, highway, auto repair shop, supermarkets, farm, jungle, logistics center and industrial factory on simulator game boards. There are detailed wind turbines next to the country road and a high voltage tower next to the farm.

Chiefs of Operations and Police Officers: Numbers the Size of Fingernails

The highway has two lanes and three lanes – so different rescue scenarios are possible. Of course, miniature worlds also contain emergency cars, buses, and cars in miniature. The chiefs of operations, bystanders, police officers and even journalists who rushed to the scene are the size of a fingernail, some even wearing name tags.

Silvio Fraterrigo is absorbed in fine motor actions. “I built the panels into the house window frames and put the blinds in the windows,” says the 55-year-old. He proudly says he painted the lids of the honey cans the right color.

Immersion in the worlds of archetypes is a relaxation for Fraterrigo

“The most beautiful thing is the peace and quiet when building,” says the trained carpenter, who works in the law and order department in the town of Lierte. “When I dive into my typical worlds in the basement of our house with the radio on, it is a complete relaxation for me,” says Fraterrigo, with beaming eyes. The train driver in the Lehrte Fire Brigade has been a passionate model builder for many years. As a teenager, he built remote-controlled ships. Since he has a lot of space in his house, he expanded his hobby.

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Replica of the old fire station inspires comrades

A few years ago, when it was clear that a new fire station was to be built in Lehrte, he decided to rebuild the old now-destroyed fire station in a 1:87 scale format and donate the model to the fire brigade. “He even cared about such details as the different pulses of the lights in the car park,” Beams confirms.

With great attention to detail: a true replica of the old Lehrte fire station designed by Silvio Fraterrigo continues to inspire firefighters today.

With great attention to detail: a true replica of the old Lehrte fire station designed by Silvio Fraterrigo continues to inspire firefighters today.

“The city’s then director of training, Stephen Newman, was so excited about the model that he asked me if I could recreate miniature scenarios for training fire brigades,” says Fratrigo. He got a budget of 5,000 euros for the purchase of materials. “The Lehrte Model Railway Association also gave me a number of models that they made themselves and didn’t need them,” says Fratrigo.

The hobby model maker required nine months of preparation before practical work could begin. “I asked for catalogs, drew sketches and put scenarios on boards,” he says. “When the Corona pandemic came, I made good use of the time,” says Fratrigo with a smile. For about a year he painted, built, and modified the nine panels using deployment scenarios.

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The middle plank can be opened on the highway

He has been through many operational situations, which he knows from practice since 41 years of active service in the fire brigade. “In the event of an accident on the highway, we might have to cut the center bulkhead to divert traffic — I also installed that,” explains Frattergo, illustrating the gap in the small bumper. The case of evacuation can be played in the event of a gas line breaking through its plates, as well as a house fire in a prefabricated building and a fire in pigs.

All panels fit together: many possible scenarios

Houses, streets, and plants in the model worlds are strongly connected to the base board. This prevents damage during transportation. Since all nine panels can be linked together, application scenarios can be varied.

Read also: Don’t be afraid of firefighters: how Silvio Frattirigo shows children how to act in the event of a fire

Fabian Meyer, head of training for the Lehrte fire brigade, is already looking to use business game discs in training — but only for adults. “The youth fire brigade is practicing with LEGO characters,” he asserts. Vice City Fire Chief Marco Baims is already looking to the future. “We want to add small cameras to the model boards,” he says. “This makes the theoretical exercises more realistic.”

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