A CERN fireman is an instructor for French-speaking Switzerland

Davide Pagnani, a team leader in the CERN Fire Brigade, is a Swiss Federal expert and instructor in the field of interventions involving radioactivity. Firemen from throughout the French-speaking part of Switzerland come to CERN for training exercises supervised by Davide.


Training on the radiation protection techniques.
Before joining the CERN Fire Brigade, Davide Pagnani studied in Rome to be a radiation protection technician working in control rooms. Since joining, he has specialised in interventions in incidents involving radioactive materials. "The CERN firemen are trained in this type of work. If there is a radioactive leak, special measures are needed to protect the firemen, bystanders and the environment", says Davide.

The training of qualified firemen in radiation protection is organised in collaboration with the Radiation Protection Group of CERN's Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Protection Unit (HSE). "I have been collaborating with the radiation protection section ever since I joined the CERN Fire Brigade", says Davide. "Close collaboration is essential both in terms of the training we provide and in the event of an incident requiring our intervention."

Davide Pagnani is an instructor not only for the CERN Fire Brigade but also at the Swiss Federal level, for French-speaking Switzerland: "Among other things, I run the training courses for the Suisse Romande fire service at the Applied Radiophysics Institute (IRA) in Lausanne, where the theoretical part of the training takes place", says Davide. "For the last three years, the practical part of the training has been done at CERN: all the firemen from French-speaking Switzerland come here. We do drills in specially determined areas that allow the use of radioactive sources under optimum safety conditions".

Through these exchanges with other fire brigades of French-speaking Switzerland, CERN can export and share its knowledge and expertise in interventions involving radioactive sources. The benefits of this joint training are extremely important for CERN as it enables the various fire brigades to standardise their methods, equipment and manoeuvres, thus improving operations and making them even more efficient in the event of a serious incident requiring the assistance of the fire brigades stationed at the airport or in Geneva, Lausanne or Neuchatel.

BOX: Davide's curriculum vitae

After obtaining a diploma as a radiation protection technician in Italy, Davide intended to work in the control room of a nuclear reactor, but fate decided otherwise: following a reform by the Italian government, the construction of new nuclear power stations was prohibited and Davide's plans changed.

Shortly afterwards, in 1986, Davide began his military service with the Italian firefighting service. He was sent to the north of Italy, near Genoa, to measure the fall-out from the Chernobyl explosion.
He enjoyed the work as a fireman and decided to sit the entrance exam. He was then transferred to Rome, where he spent eight years, including four in the service dealing with technological hazards. He then applied to join the CERN Fire Brigade and was recruited in 1998.



by Alizée Dauvergne