El Tordillo Emergency Brigade: Five years of activity undertaken with pride

On June 2, we held a double celebration: it was Volunteer Firefighter's Day in Argentina, also marking the five-year anniversary since we launched the El Tordillo Emergency Brigade. The crew has been trained and prepared to help with contingencies--and as a diverse team, they really make a difference to service.

The El Tordillo Emergency Brigade was formally created on June 2, 2016, the date when Volunteer Firefighter's Day is celebrated in Argentina. But in fact, the project began to take shape much earlier, conceived of as “a tool to help people in a critical situation because of an accident and to contain any emergency liable to affect our operations, people and the environment. The endgame is obviously is to save lives and protect property,” explains Fernando Domenech, from the Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) area, who heads up the brigade.

Its members set about shaping the project from scratch, defining the objectives, designing the logo, selecting uniforms and developing the training plan. In the process, they received external support and advice from professionals in emergencies from other areas, such as community firefighters, technicians and even engineers.

Today, the Brigade crew members are: Marcelo Cañaveras, head of HSE; Fernando Domenech and Marcelo Egea, from HSE, who are leaders and instructors. Then there are Carlos Dell, from Facilities, and Eduardo Amado, from Production, who are both crew chiefs. They work with Bruno Di Tulio, from Gas; Diego Carranza, from Plants; Andrés Torres, from Security; Daniela Rivero, from Production; Eduardo Rodríguez, from Security; Verónica Zárate, from HR, and Nicolás Ingentron, from Maintenance.

A diverse team

Daniela Rivero and Verónica Zárate joined the brigade in 2019, bringing gender diversity to the table. "Although we’ve been working hard in this area at Tecpetrol, there’s still a long way to go in order to ensure that men and women have the same opportunities. The El Tordillo emergency brigade shows that we’re on the right track," says María Laura García, Talent and Communication Manager.

Daniela decided to join the brigade as she wanted to acquire new knowledge, abilities and skills that would complement her work as well as her family life. “The team works really well together, and I felt I fitted in right from the beginning. In addition, they were really supportive when it came to transmitting their knowledge, motivating me to join in and help the team’s common objectives,” she says, adding that "getting involved in these activities is mostly about each person’s skills-set, regardless of what gender they are. In this team, we’re all useful in one way or another.”

Verónica joined Tecpetrol in July 2019 and signed up for the fire department just two months later. When she found out about the brigade, the first thing she felt was "admiration for the crew, their dedication and willingness to help out, in such a selfless way.” Veronica admits that she’s had a vocation for service since she was a little girl, so she decided to apply, "not only because of the technical things to be learned, but also because of the values that such a group can teach." 

Initially, she wasn’t too sure about things when she joined, because with Daniela, they were the first women in the brigade, but as it turned out, she was pleasantly surprised: “I was given a great welcome, there was lots of camaraderie, and I felt comfortable from the word go. This is a really supportive group that teaches you things, and you know you can rely on them in all circumstances, whether it’s work or not. I definitely recommend it.”

The brigade has always been open to all personnel keen to volunteer, with no distinctions regarding gender, culture, religion, politics, etc. Both women were welcomed "with great enthusiasm by the entire team, since we firmly believe in the importance of working without differences of any kind," said Fernando. In addition, "the role of women in emergency response work brings unparalleled operational significance to the table because their natural temperament allows them to play strong, highly valued roles."

Training as a management base

Anybody joining the brigade must first pass a battery of medical and psychological studies before embarking on a rigorous training process, the main pillar of the brigade’s work. A plan is drawn up every year to prepare personnel in all the relevant areas. Once people achieve certain levels of learning and operational execution, they are assessed internally and then by an external body to obtain certification.

Looking back over these years, teamwork has played a key role: “We have grown so much as people, and as emergency professionals; we’ve reached a very high standard, something which has been singled out even by members of external firefighting forces,” says Marcelo Egea with pride. "We’ve also reached a point where many of the members have started to work as trainers, supporting training and issuing instructions to newcomers."

“Equipped” Brigade in Fortín de Piedra

When Tecpetrol started work on the massive development project at Fortín de Piedra in 2017, the Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) area defined the structure of the emergency system required to service an operation of this magnitude. Subsequently, on June 2, 2017 the Fortín de Piedra Emergency Brigade was set up to handle fire scenarios as well as vehicle rescues, at height and in confined spaces at the site.

Currently, the group is made up of: Manuel Caba (area), Matías Campillo (area), Santiago Fanti (area), Franco Fernández (area), Nicolás Ferrero (area), Diego Heras (area), Marcos Quilodran (area), Jimmi Ramos (area), Franco Rodríguez (area), Julio Sandoval (area), Luis Torres (area), and Teófilo Vignolles (area). 

In addition, the brigade has its own emergency vehicle, which can hold up to 8,000 liters of water and 2,000 of foam. "The advantage of having our own fire truck is that we can guarantee proper maintenance support to the field, as well as the necessary degree of reliability. This is a rescue team and must be 100% available when required," emphasizes Juan Pablo Presser, Head of Industrial Safety and Occupational Health in the Neuquen Basin and Vaca Muerta Region.

We wish the members of both Tecpetrol Emergency Brigades a very happy Volunteer Firefighter’s Day with thanks for their commitment and vocation of service to others!

Experience at Fortín de Piedra

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