by Chris Phillips Published 01/08/2007
People often think that it's a dangerous job after watching news on television about rescues, but Chris feels very safe working. He gets used to the dynamics of his job so there are rarely surprises in his work. "I have seen a lot of things that really aren't nice to talk about. However, there's a lot of safety in the job, and not as many risks as people imagine. Risk assessments are a top priority in ensuring the safety of everybody at the scene of an incident.
Despite often being called out in the early hours of the morning, Chris enjoys his job immensely and would not wish it to be any other way. According to him, he is lucky because he likes his job and feels his team includes his family, who put up with the erratic working day without complaint.
While most days are very varied, if he is not called to an incident, Chris works at his computer, compiling and making presentations about the latest safety messages for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. According to him, "Speed is the main advantage of digital technology. It's great to be able to work so fast. I can download photos to my laptop, even from my car at the scene of an incident thanks to wireless technology and send my work directly to Headquarters; I can then continue to take photos. The photography is used for many purposes including the media, incident debriefs, internal and external publications, and for training"
In his rigorous working conditions equipment selection, care and preparation are vital. Phillips uses two camera models: a Nikon D2X and a Nikon D200, one with a wide angle, one with a short zoom lens (12-24mm and 17-55mm). You cannot change lenses at an incident with the dust, smoke and liquids flying around. He also says that it's vital to know the fundamentals of photography - don't use anything automatic, always manual, get it right and get out fast! "I prefer manual systems because I can control the camera. The fire doesn't wait for you to set your camera correctly, and you cannot re-create it if you miss it." Chris is almost always working in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which is not designed with photographers in mind!
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