Featured Employee: Twan Smets

Twan Smets

Twan Smets, Operator of Material Handling in Veldhoven, Netherlands has worked at A. O. Smith since 1995. Over the years, he has also worked as a volunteer firefighter. His noble work has saved countless lives, and his passion has inspired local youth to pursue firefighting as well. 

Get to know Twan…

Q: Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Veldhoven.

Q: What is your current role at A. O. Smith?
At the moment, my function is operator material handling.

Q: How long have you been a volunteer firefighter?
This August of 2018 I will have been a volunteer firefighter for 27 years.

Q: What inspired you to become a volunteer firefighter?
When I was a little boy I used to visit three firefighters on a regular basis that lived in my neighborhood. I often heard stories about their work as firefighters and that piqued my interest. When I was 21 years old, I applied for a job at the volunteer fire department. Obviously, that worked out well.

Q: What motivates you to continue to volunteer?
I never know what to expect, which is very exciting. I think it’s great to save people and animals, and to be socially involved. I continue to take courses, learning more and more. I can then apply what I have learned in difficult conditions to my life at home and at work.

Q: How do you balance your work at A. O. Smith with your work as a firefighter?
The department of Material Handling consists of six people at A. O. Smith Veldhoven. My colleagues understand the need to rescue people, so they support me whenever they can.  I can organize my hours in a flexible way so that all of my work always gets done at A. O. Smith. 

Q: What is the best part of being a volunteer firefighter?

The best part is when there is a fire where there are no victims; just a huge fire that I have to extinguish. And of course saving people, to get them out of the fire alive.

Q: Can you tell me what it was like to respond to the Hercules Aircraft crash at the Eindhoven airport in 1996?
Initially we just did our jobs. We didn’t know where we were going, and we didn’t know what to expect. Once we arrived at Eindhoven Airport, we received our instructions and had to work very hard. When I came home late in the evening, I switched on the TV to see the news about the crash. The moment I saw what had happened on TV, I suddenly realized the impact it had on me.

Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of work and volunteering?
Yes, I like to make music, and I play a little drum. Sometimes I perform with the music association in the local theater. Furthermore, I supervise the voluntary youth firefighters. The children are between 12 and 18 years old. They receive the same training as adult firefighters, but it is less extensive, and they do not work with real fire. They learn how to put out fake fires, how to handle the water hose and other things like that.

Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Simple and clear: Remember to be yourself.