The Backus and Johnson brewery of Peru has been part of the SABMiller group since 2005. Not content with being the biggest beer supplier in the country, the company is also helping to save lives by training emergency responders.
Eighteen children from the northern Peruvian city of Chiclayo owe their lives to SABMiller employee Francisco Cespedes.

Thanks to his emergency responder training, Francisco – a maintenance worker at the Backus plant in Motupe – knew exactly what to do when he heard children screaming for help after fire broke out in a city orphanage.

I ran to the door but it had padlocks on it. The children were crying out for help... The smoke was making it hard for them to breathe so we began to break the iron gate. We started to pull and bend the iron bars and the kids began crawling out of the building.
Francisco Cespedes | Maintenance Operator, Motupe plant, Backus

Francisco, praised by Backus Managing Director Fernando Zavala for his actions, paid tribute to a Backus scheme that taught him firefighting skills. Being part of a trained emergency response team consisting of Backus employees enabled him to keep a cool head when it was most needed. 

Three years ago the Backus corporate affairs team, led by Director of Security Augusto Cavero, set up a training centre at the Motupe plant, teaching firefighting techniques to volunteers like Francisco based on the NFPA 600 standard. Since then, similar facilities have been established in the capital, Lima, in the rainforest region at Pucallpa, and at Cusco and Arequipa airports. 

“What does being a firefighter mean? To go in when others are running out,” says Ricardo Vasquez, a response team member who normally works in industrial hygiene safety. “We have learned to work together as a team. Likewise, I invite anyone [in Backus] who wants to be a part of the brigade to join us. It is a wonderful yet exhausting job, but after doing a good job you will definitely wear a smile on your face.”

There are now nearly 278 Backus employees in the response teams, operating as firefighters and paramedics. The training helps them to build a safe environment at Backus plants, teaches leadership skills and teamwork, and fosters a sense of community spirit at the company. However, team bonding and outreach is more than just a help to the community and the company – sometimes it leads to real heroics. 

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