Damian Walpuski, a third-year student at the Main School of the Fire Service in Warsaw, Poland, is completing a four-week internship with the McKinney Fire Department (MFD) during September. The prestigious Main School, often compared to West Point, allows only a limited number of their highest ranking officer cadets to participate in the exchange program. Walpuski is one of only five cadets selected to visit fire departments across the U.S. Upon completing his six years of study, Walpuski will graduate with the equivalent of a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
Walpuski noted that acceptance into the international officer exchange program is highly competitive. “Cadets must undergo a battery of tests, maintain an exceptionally high grade point average, exhibit fluency in English, and meet other stringent criteria,” observed Walpuski. “While visiting the U.S., my goal is to examine differences in how the fire service is run in the U.S.A. and Poland. The primary difference I have observed is that Poland uses a nationalized system in contrast to the city departments found here.”
According to MFD spokesperson Stacie Durham, “The goal of the MFD in hosting Walpuski is to share as much knowledge as possible and provide exposure to the varied activities and operations typical in a U.S. fire service agency. In return he shares his knowledge and expertise.”
Examples of specialized training in which Walpuski has participated include:
- · aircraft disaster simulation drill at DFW Airport
- · hazardous materials response and decontamination drill with Plano Fire Department
- · fly-out with PHI Medical Helicopter
- · fire simulator, life safety education class, and fire protection systems overview at Collin College Fire Academy
The trip also aims to expose the exchange officer to the Texas culture. During his time in Texas, Damian has attended his first high school football game, attended hunter safety training, participated in his first target practice, as well as scoring three strikes in his first effort at bowling. One of the highlights of the trip, weather permitting, will be a hot air balloon flight with the media on Friday, Sept. 20 in association with Plano Balloon Festival.
McKinney Fire Chief Danny Kistner said, “Being approached to host a Cadet is a great honor. It speaks highly of the regard in which the McKinney Fire Department is held, not only in Texas; but across the nation and internationally.”
This officer exchange program is made possible through the cooperative efforts of the Main School of the Fire Service in Warsaw, Poland, the USA Branch of the Institution of Fire Engineers, and fire service agencies across the country.
Story submitted by Stacie Durham, McKinney Fire Department