Heathrow Firefighter returns from World Games


By Heathrow

Published 20th August 2013

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A few weeks ago we introduced our readers to Heathrow Firefighter James Dajlid who was just about to head off to The 2013 World Police and Fire Games in Belfast(Aug 1-10) . After some serious competing, site seeing, and a lot of fun, James is back at work this week so yourHeathrow caught up with him to hear all about it.

How would you rate the championships overall as an experience? Was it what you expected?

The best of the best! This by far is one of the most challenging competitions, which is packed with speed and power and not for the faint hearted. Yes, it was what I expected with strong competition from all over the world and some taking it more serious than others. In fact, some competitors had to win heats in their own country before they could get the chance to compete in Belfast.

What events did you compete in at the championships, and what were your results?

I competed in the “Ultimate Firefighter” event. This attracted 189 competitors and was by far the most popular and challenging event. Overall, I finished 22nd in the world, 8th in my age category (30-34) and 2nd amongst UK competitors!

Competing was my favourite part about the games and it has left me with so much determination to start training even harder for the European Games in Brussels next year.

Most impressive competitor?

My old friend Herbert Krenn, from Austria, who I met at the Liverpool World Firefighters Games back in 2008. He won a gold medal in his age category (40-44) in Belfast and he is my idol due to his determination, athletic professionalism and all round character.

Best off the field experience at the championships?

The chance to meet other firefighters and police officers from around the world and sharing one another’s experiences was invaluable while also proudly representing Heathrow Airport. I also got the chance to do some site seeing around Belfast including City Hall, the famous Europa Hotel and a visit to HM Prison, Crumlin Road, which was closed in 1996. The prison in particular was a real eye opener!

It was great also to watch other events such as boxing, orienteering and the “Muster” which is a team event where competitors have to transport water using an old fashioned water carrier from one point to another against the clock, while spilling as little as possible.

Anything else you’d like to add about the championships?

The Games is the biggest event for fire fighters and police officers in the world and delivers some 60 different events. It reminds me of the Olympics, though we’re all part-time athletes. There is definitely plenty of hidden talent out there amongst emergency services and I’d recommend anyone that has a passion for a particular sport to get involved with the next games and take on the rest of the world!

I personally have a strong passion for sport and always give 100 per cent, but I couldn’t have got to the games without the great support of my family, friends, crew members and Senior Managers. The only advice I would give to other firefighters and police officers is go and enjoy the experience and if you put the time in training then good results will follow.

Want to know more about what it’s like to be an airport firefighter? Check out our behind the scenes piece here with James’ boss Gary.

It has been an incredibly busy year for yourHeathrow airport, so much so that it’s hard to believe this day one year ago we were saying farewell to athletes from the 2012 London Olympics. Here at yourHeathrow, we thought we’d flashback a year to August 13, 2012. Enjoy!

August 13, 2012…

With London and the world all talking about the triumphs and tribulations of the just completed 2012 Olympics, it would be Heathrow Airport that would provide the last United Kingdom farewell to the athletes.

On this day last year, we opened our specially constructed, London Park-themed, Games Terminal to coincide with what was tipped to be our busiest day for Olympian departures or arrivals.

An estimated 15,000 members of the Olympic family, including 6,000 athletes, passed through Heathrow’s doors on the day. This number was only part of the 116,000 passengers through the airport that day – a jump of over 20,000 passengers on an average.

An estimated 15,000 members of the Olympic family, including 6,000 athletes, passed through Heathrow’s doors on the day. This number was only part of the 116,000 passengers through the airport that day – a jump of over 20,000 passengers on an average.

The Memory Tree…

Included in the terminal experience was a chance for the athletes to record their favourite memory of the 2012 London Games and hang it on a tree, which was displayed at Heathrow after the games. The athletes’ comments were also collated into books that were presented to the 1,300 Heathrow volunteers that helped make the arrivals and departures process a success.

Sporting equipment, bags…and more bags…

Kayaks, tennis racquets, and javelins were just some of the large variety of items Heathrow had to deal with during the Olympics in addition to the average three bags per athlete. As part of the special arrangements for the occasion some 5,040 bags were checked-in and collected from the Olympic Village the night before and processed at Heathrow, to ease the strain on August 13.

American water polo gold medal winners L to R Tumua Anau and Courney Matheson at the Heathrow games terminal before departing to the US. picture David Dyson

A London Park-themed terminal?

The terminal included plants, park benches, replica gas lights, trees and model stags. London’s skyline was depicted on the walls while the park was also filled with iconic local items such as a red telephone box and a Routemaster bus. Heathrow staff dressed like park wardens for the day while a bearskin guard was stationed at the ticket presentation desk.

While the Terminal provided a lasting visual memory for the athletes, it also had 31 check-in desks and seven security lanes to help deal with the high number of departures. This project was only one part of the £20 million Heathrow invested in facilities to help athletes during both the Olympics and Paralympics.

This same design was replicated in Terminal 1 earlier this year as a tribute to the great memories the games created.

Heathrow in numbers…

As part of our preparations last year we published the below graphic with some of the more surprising numbers we were expecting during the Olympic period:

What was your favourite moment of the 2012 London Olympics?

Leave a comment or tweet us @yourHeathrow.

Did you know 80,000 historical artefacts were unearthed during excavations for the building of Terminal 5?

At Gate 11 in T5 we have a new display showcasing some of the unique finds so here at yourHeathrow we thought we’d see what it’s all about.

The UK’s largest archaeological excavation…

The excavations at T5 were the biggest single-dig site in the United Kingdom during construction with some 250-acres explored and 8,000 years of human history unearthed in the process.

About 80,000 historical artefacts were found during the dig including a hand-axe dating back to 3000BC, allowing archaeologists to piece together the site’s history from the deep forests of the Old Stone Age, to the innovative terminal constructions of today.

The 80 archaeologists involved in this project worked hard during more than 15 months in Heathrow excavations to study how the landscape and the communities around the site have changed from 8,500 BC.

What’s on display at T5?

T5’s new display is located airside in the Northern Departure Lounge and showcases many of the unique archaeological finds from the site.

Visitors will also learn about the how the land around T5 evolved over 9,000 years to the present day. Beside the screens you can find replica artefacts including those made by the archaeologist, and star of Channel 4’s Time Team, Phil Harding. A large number of artefacts that were recovered from the T5 site are now on display at the Museum of London in the Barbican.

Want more info?

For more information on the history of the site and the items found please check out the Framework Archaeologists website. Wessex Archaeology and Oxford Archaeology organisations were both involved in the dig and research process.

Having come out in the top three at recent UK Firefighters Games, firefighter James Dajlid of Heathrow Airport’s Fire Services has now set his sights on international wins – he’s training to participate in The World Police and Fire Games 2013.

The competition, which this year will be held in Ireland between August 1 and 10, is the Olympics equivalent of the Fire and Police service world. The event attracts some 10,000 competitors from around seventy countries and over twenty-five thousand visitors.

A wide range of individual and team sports are involved in the games, which are held every two years. The concept of promoting sport within the police and firefighting communities began in 1967 in the United States of America with the staging of the first-ever California Police Olympics.

Since then the event has been held in locations across the world and has featured emergency services personal from every corner of the globe.

This year will see competitors take part in 56 sporting events including the much coveted ‘Ultimate Firefighter’ – something that James is training hard for. This event is a test of skill versus time and is based on fire-drills like lugging and lifting heavy equipment aloft, moving and running, hose-running and ladder-climbing – across various obstacles.

James trains for the event by sprinting up the hills of Winchester with 18 kgs strapped on, attracting some very puzzled looks. While his mates at the fire station are very supportive of his endeavour, his wife Emma might need some convincing – she thinks he’s crazy.

Here at yourHeathrow we’re wishing James luck as he takes on the world. We’ll be cheering for him from afar!

UPDATE, 2015: Since the launch of Back Heathrow over 100,000 people have signed up to the group to make their support for Heathrow count. Significantly, over 53,000 of the responses to the Airports Commission National Consultation on expansion, were from Back Heathrow supporters wanting Heathrow expansion. Find out more here

9 Aug 2013: A new community campaign, “Back Heathrow”, has been launched today to give a voice to those residents who support Heathrow with Rob Gray announced as the Campaign Director.

Rob – who previously worked for the Aviation Foundation and who lives locally – has joined the campaign to fight for the jobs and businesses that rely on Heathrow.

The campaign has been established in response to polling published in June that showed more people in local communities around Heathrow back the airport than oppose it, and follows confirmation from the Mayor last month that his plans for a new hub airport would necessitate the closure of Heathrow.

The campaign is being launched with funding from Heathrow Airport and will now begin the process of identifying and recruiting local support. A new website, backheathrow.org, has been launched for the campaign, and from this week over 400,000 newspapers will be delivered to local communities surrounding the airport.

Rob Gray, Campaign Director for Back Heathrow, said, “For too long, the local residents who support Heathrow have been the silent majority in the debate on the airport’s future.

“I am delighted to be joining a campaign to give a voice to the many thousands of local residents who back Heathrow and whose businesses and jobs depend on the future of the airport.”

Heathrow Director of Corporate Affairs, Clare Harbord said, “One hundred and fourteen thousand jobs will be lost to the local community forever if Heathrow were forced to close – that’s one in five local jobs in the five boroughs closest to Heathrow. The threat to these jobs is now very real.

“Under the Mayor’s plans, the choice is not between a third runway at Heathrow or no third runway. It’s between a third runway at Heathrow or no Heathrow at all. So now is the time to back Heathrow.” – Rob Gray, Back Heathrow Campaign Director

Local business people and residents – like Neil Martin from Parker Car Service in Isleworth and Sarita Sudera, a Security Officer at the airport from Heston – are already adding their voices to Back Heathrow.

“Everybody in this area benefits from the airport whether it be a local greengrocer or a big company. Where I was born in Feltham, everybody worked at the airport whether they worked for a cleaning company, a catering company, a transport company or for one of the airlines. It means so much for the local economy,” Mr Martin said.

“I have many friends who work at the airport and a lot of friends whose children or parents work there so it’s a lot about generations. Heathrow is our community, I can’t imagine what would happen if it wasn’t there,” Sarita Sudera said.

While initial funding has been provided by Heathrow, Back Heathrow is a community campaign. Please visit the Back Heathrow website for more information.


By Heathrow

Published 9th August 2013