Interview with Matthew Mizzi

December 31, 2014 in Member Interviews

Matthew MizziAge: 24
Occupation: QA with a software development company

It is the much awaited holiday season and I sit down to prepare some questions for my fellow EFRU team member, Matthew Mizzi. We are corresponding by email due to the various activities which arise at this time of year, and as I read his email I smile at his good natured and amiable answers which are very characteristic of him. Matthew describes himself as being a very adventurous and outgoing person. In his own words, he is almost always one of the first people to climb down a rope or to crawl inside a tunnel. As I have experienced myself as a recently recruited member, he is always ready to give a helping hand to someone in need. Moreover, he is the first to emphasise that over the years the EFRU has had a strong positive influence on the way he thinks and react, and on his character as a whole.

My first question to Matthew regards when and how he discovered the EFRU, and what prompted him to join the Unit.

‘Basically I was always very interested in firefighting and rescue. A couple of years ago I started researching volunteer teams in Malta and decided to check out the EFRU. I was instantly hooked when I saw how dedicated and proud all the members of this organisation were.’

I can honestly say that my recruitment a couple of months ago happened in the same manner. Since there is such a variety of activities and work carried out at the EFRU, I ask Matthew which particular aspects he enjoys the most.

‘This must be one of the hardest questions in this interview as there are many aspects I love in our organisation, but I will stick to the main three. Firstly I have to mention our close knit ties, we are members of a large family. When your life hangs from a rope a couple of storeys up, you must have the utmost trust in those team mates who are lowering you down, to help someone. Secondly, it is the sense of adventure in what we do. Thanks to the EFRU I have been in quite a number of places and taken part in a number of activities that few people have had the luck to experience. Such an example was abseiling down Auberge de Castille, and training in Italy with our Italian counterparts. Thirdly it is that sense of pride and joy we feel after a successful deployment or duty. Simply going home knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life today is awesome. One memory that comes to mind very sharply is that of Graham Sansone who unluckily was hurt whilst filming a stunt on the Comminotto cliffs.’

Most of our team members would agree whole heartedly with Matthew on this. His answer is comprehensive and true to form as he is a pleasantly talkative person. I also ask Matthew about his main occupation, and he tells me that he works as a software tester with an international software development company. He goes on to explain that basically he checks that the software which is released on the market is of top standard, and that he also develops automated tests. He admits that this job has him inside an office all day. Since I know that he also does a very significant amount of IT related work with the EFRU, I ask him about the way in which his full-time occupation fits in.

‘Given my experience and strong background in IT, I take care of all IT related needs for our organisations (both the EFRU and EVOLSAR). These duties range from website maintenance and new development, to simple tasks such as setting up a new email account for one of our members. This usually entails quite a number of email exchanges with the PR Team and executive committee, and a couple of late nights to end up with something amazing such as our respective websites. When I’m not in front of my laptop, I’m usually dangling from a rope or pulling up a stretcher which gives me some time to enjoy the fresh air which is a huge bonus compared to most stuff we do today which tends to keep us more and more indoors.’

The more people I meet at the EFRU and in general, the more I realise how much work goes into it and how hectic life can become. Therefore I ask Matthew how he manages his agenda. He tells me it is not an easy task, and jokingly adds that he has been asking for more than 24 hours in a day for ages, yet his wish hasn’t been answered. He emphasises the importance of getting your priorities in order, even if it means working for an extra couple of hours at night or missing a duty due to an important meeting at work.

Since so much work and dedication goes in to making the EFRU function in the best manner possible, my next question for Matthew is whether he thinks more resources are required for the EFRU. He tells me the following:

‘Today the EFRU has grown quite a bit compared to when I first joined, making us much more operationally capable and increasing the number of trained volunteers available when it comes to a deployment. Having said this I do not believe that there is ever a limit to the number of volunteers one can have as when disaster strikes you need as many hands as possible.’

On the other hand financially the expenses of purchasing new equipment and maintenance are pretty exorbitant, so we definitely need all the help we can get here.’
With this sobering answer, I delve into my last question for Matthew, before I let him enjoy the Christmas spirit in peace. In fact, I ask him whether he, like all of us at the EFRU, would encourage more people to join the Unit. Matthew leaves us with this wonderful recommendation:

‘Definitely! Apart from technical fire and rescue skills one learns whilst training, along the years I have learnt quite a few life lessons that I always keep at the back of my mind.My best referral to date must be my mum, who is a pretty active member in the unit and is also our unit’s doctor. I must say that thanks to the unit I have seen a new side of my mum, one I have never seen before and this has really strengthened our relationship! So a definite thumbs up to all interested in joining, no matter your age or capabilities.’

So with these powerful words from our proud team member, I take my leave and on behalf of the EFRU I wish you all very happy holidays. And remember, stay safe!

Charlene Schembri