Patrick Biraud: Save lives or perishPhotography : Camille Noyon - Text : Julien Damon
With his booming voice, wrestler’s body, a strong personality and hard head, Patrick Biraud is first and foremost a fireman. A voluntary fireman, just like his father and his grandfather before him.
He joined Chantilly’s brigade as a junior fireman at the age of sixteen, climbed up the ladder, became a corporal, then chief officer and just retired with the rank of honorary lieutenant, while remaining a flag-carrier for the Senlis rescue centre.
Going up the ladder gives more responsibilities but, more than the pride of being awarded a medal, it is the satisfaction brought by helping out that motivates Patrick Biraud. Being a fireman means helping others, committing oneself on a daily basis to go and save lives. In Senlis, that often – too often – means intervening on highway A1 to attempt to rescue victims in car crashes, sometimes very badly injured, sometimes also children. Having intervened in difficult situations such as traffic disasters and everyday life accidents, plus three times as reinforcement in the Gard region to fight dramatic forest fires that break out during the hottest spells of summer, flag-carrier Biraud speaks of painful experiences which you can’t get used to, but that you overcome all the same thanks to the strength of dedication, training and discipline as a fireman.
Beyond those difficult times, working as a fireman also brings great joy: for example, when a young girl, who was thought to be lost after a car crash and finally was rescued in the end, came to visit the fire station to thank her rescuers. Being a fireman is also about the friendship, the giggles and the shared rituals celebrating friendship, cohesion and physical dedication, like swimming across the (very cold) Oise river every December.
Patrick Biraud is a fireman even at home. He has gathered there a fantastic collection of helmets, medals and figurines: almost four hundred miniature cars and fire trucks. He is also a fireman in his own skin: as shown by his tattoo on his arm bearing the symbol of his institution.
Those values feeding his vocation as a fireman, Patrick Biraud also brings them to life in his job: he is responsible for the maintenance service in the city of Chantilly and insists on the streets being always clean and welcoming. He also brings those values to multiple voluntary actions, such as the Telethon.
Patrick Biraud has few future plans for himself but mainly watches his two grandsons grow up, and thinks to himself that maybe one of them will take over the family torch and will one day become, who knows, a fireman himself.