Experienced firefighter and manager defected after 39 years – could not take it any longer
Bengt Malmberg worked in the Malmö fire brigade and the south Swedish emergency services for 39 years. His verdict on the brigade is anything but merciful.
“They have intentionally lowered the quality of the firemen, so now the public cannot count on being saved from a dangerous situation or at least get the best help possible. This is a complete disaster,” he says.
After 39 years, Bengt Malmberg had enough of seeing the once so competent fire brigade dismantled, replaced by slender women and less capable men – in the name of equality and multiculturalism. Now he works as a security officer for Sverigedemokraterna in the Swedish parliament.
For many years, he was known as ”Bengt Satan” among the firefighters – due to his drills being rock hard, which kept the firemen in top physical shape.
“Nowadays they recruit so many physically weak persons that they could never cope with my exercises. That, in turn, means that they get lighter exercises, and consequently that they keep getting worse.”
The declining quality showed up during a garage fire in Rosengård in Malmö a year or so ago. In that fire, two inexperienced firefighters in full protective gear lost their way in the sea of fire and smoke, and were close to losing their lives. Other firemen had to be dispatched in order to save them.
“That would never have happened if the firemen had been in top shape and routinely had trained for worst-case scenarios,” says Bengt Malmberg.
Malmberg has run six Vasalopp (“The Vasa Race”, 90 kilometers of cross-country skiing), and is in decent shape despite his 64 years. Yet he should not be able to pass the tests for firefighters at his age.
“But I would, as the way the tests are designed now. You could wake me up in the middle of the night, and I’d pass the tests – with flying colors.”
The deterioration started in 2003, when the city of Malmö dedicated six million Swedish kroner (€750,000) to project “Female Firefighter”, a 2-year equality project. Before that there had not been a single woman in the operative service of the Malmö fire corps, and the intention was ”in part to prepare the operative branch for female firefighters, in part to integrate women into the operative force.” The result revealed that the intention was not to improve the fire brigade; it was exclusively about making space for women.
“At that time, I was the labor representative for the managers, and reluctantly accepted the project.
“It was said that the fire brigade had to reflect society, which I already then found strange.
“The task of the fire brigade is to save lives. It should not matter if the firefighters are men or women, Swedes or immigrants – as long as they get the job done!”
Six women participated in the project. They were, according to Bengt Malmberg, ”not even remotely able to live up to the demands”, but the intention was that in the course of one year they were to be trained sufficiently to live up to them. They never did – but all of them were hired anyway.
“Today, two of them are still here, and they are good. But much more able candidate were thus put aside in order to hire the six women.”
It did not take long for Bengt Malmberg to notice the difference at the scene during fires. The job was not done as fast or as well as before, a fact he pointed out to the top leadership, who however took no action on the matter.
“Thus I was not surprised to hear that female firefighters at a drill in Lund took more than 10 minutes to force a security door. During my time, no women were able to start the large power cutter – which is vital for cutting through doors.
“But the management is in the hands of politicians who have decided that this is how it should be,” says Bengt Malmberg. “I think the politicians do not understand what they have been up to. I am a substitute City Council member in Lund myself, and have tried to take up the question there, but got the reply that this is no longer a municipal matter, as the Emergency Services South is now a regional organization.”
According to Bengt Malmberg, the lowering of the quality of firemen has spread like a plague all over Sweden. Nowadays the employees are much better at ancillary activities such as selling smoke alarms to the public, but radically poorer than past firemen at saving lives.
“The worst is that records are no longer kept of how well individual firefighters are doing at drills or at tasks in the real world.”
This is also the experience of Dispatch International when we tried to obtain statistics from drills at the Lund fire station. Manager of Production Ulf Nilsson responds: ”We have no documentation regarding variations in the time required to force doors open, neither for individuals or groups of personnel, in our records. We do not measure differences between groups or individuals (that is, no differences between men, between women, between men and women, or between various age groups).”
“This is obviously crippling for the task at hand. In the worst case, this means that your house will burn down and you burn with it, because the firemen dispatched are not capable of doing their job,” says Bengt Malmberg.
“I have no words for this except ‘scandal’. If people were aware how bad things are at our fire brigades, they would rebel. We are overdue to hold the politicians responsible for what they have done.”