Benjamin Fix is a 20-year-old intern from France who is polite, attentive and a delight to be around. Sitting in the fire station with Fix and local firemen it is evident that he has taken a place in their hearts in a very short time. Arriving in the United States just three weeks ago, Fix has determined that he likes hamburgers, Mexican food and salads.
He is learning English and doing very well at speaking with the firemen but they say he is even better at speaking Spanish in some instances. Fire Chief Mike Shorrock and Captain Skip Sannar are his mentors until he goes home to France June 21. He is living at the station to get to know the system better but on weekends, his mentors try to make sure he sees some of the area such as Lake Tahoe. Fix also got to see a Ski Patrol function.
"I am enjoying the culture, the friendly atmosphere. There is a real difference in the fire department at home and here," Fix stated.
It is unusual to hear of a fire fighter at this young age, but technically Fix is here to observe, not participate in fire fighting. He was a paid volunteer starting out in France before he was 18 years-of-age, something like our Explorer program for the young adults.
He is here to perform a project, to write a paper as a student of I.U.T., the Institute University of Technology at Bordeaux in Health & Safety Environment to become a firefighter once he passes the test. The project is to be written in English which means one of his mentors will help translate it because then Fix must write it in French in addition to a power point presentation.
"This is a pretty intense college level project, "Shorrock explained. "He pushes himself. He is an American parent's dream," he stated.
Fix enjoys many sports but mainly basketball as he stated, hoping to attend the NBA Playoffs while he is here. He has learned about double overtime and loves to watch Shaquille O'Neal. He was a lifeguard in France and can't wait to start swimming here before he goes home. He participated in a triathlon in France and loved it. He has participated in firefighter games and won the International World Firefighter Championships with two other people.
As his project, Fix has written a Home Safety Survey which will be sent out by CAL Fire Butte County Fire Department to 500 residences in the Gridley area. The survey is completely anonymous and just one page. An anonymous survey such as this one has never been done in Gridley and will prove to be very useful for CAL Fire as explained by Fire Specialist II Maryann Aldrich.
Once Fix finishes his undergraduate work he will continue in college another three years in Engineering.
Page 2 of 2 - Captain Skip Sannar helped Fix prepare the anonymous survey for the collection of data and they will translate the survey in Spanish. This survey will help Gridley's fire station to see what prevention issues should be addressed and prioritized.
Fix has a learners permit to drive but Captain Sannar is responsible to make sure he gets to his destination.
"I appreciate all the help I get from the firemen. They teach me to speak English and help me all the time," Fix said.
To read the entire article, please pick up a copy of the May 10, 2013 issue of the Gridley Herald.