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Out of Office: Coke Employee Is Fire-breather By Night

By:  Elenna Garman Sep 25, 2013
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Fire breathing

Job Eijlders has a unique hobby – breathing fire.

This new #OutofOffice monthly series will highlight many of our Coca-Cola employees who agreed to share what makes them happy when they're away from the desk. This series was brought to life through our Coca-Cola Europe team who was sharing these stories internally. One story was sent to us, the Journey team, and we knew we had to open these up to the world. The stories are inspiring, fun and thought-provoking.

Our series celebrating the ’out of office’ skills and talents of our Europe Group colleagues continues today as we talk to Job Eijlders from Brussels. Away from his desk, Job has a most spectacular skill – as a fire-breather.

When he’s not working for our Research & Development team as Stability Manager, Job can be found playing with fire, literally.

We caught up with him to learn more about the tricks of the trade.

Breathing fire at castle

Job during a dramatic fire-breathing performance.

How did you get into fire-breathing?

Fire is a fascinating element that captures the curiosity of many people with its combination of beauty,mystery and danger. It all started when I decided to wear a dragon costume to a fancy dress party. Any respectable dragon must be able to breathe fire, so I decided it would be very cool if I could learn this skill.

This was back in 2009 and it is still just as exciting and fun as the first time I tried it. I currently practice my hobby about once or twice a week, occasionally giving fire-breathing performances with my partner Yoke. Luckily our neighbours and cats are used to it!

How do you do it? Talk us through the process.

It’s actually quite simple: you hold a flammable liquid in your mouth and then you “spray” it into a flame, which ignites the liquid and creates a stunning ball of fire.

My personal safety and the safety of spectators is always top priority. The choice of liquid is very important − alcohol and petrol are completely off limits. Alcohol’s combustion point is too low, which can result in the flame backfiring into your mouth. And petrol contains lots of chemicals that are very bad for your health. I only use special oil mixtures that are specifically made for fire-breathing.

The biggest danger is actually that the liquid could enter your lungs. This can cause chemical pneumonia, so never make a fire-breather laugh when he is working!

Despite the risks, in the five years that I’ve been fire-breathing I’ve only had one little incident where I lost a few eyebrow hairs, so it’s safer than you might expect.

Watch Job perform with the Namur fire-artists 'Les Orryflammes':

Does fire-breathing require special skills?

The size of the flames, which varies between two and four metres, is dependent on how long you breathe the oil into the flame and the amount of liquid you use.

Fire breathing triangle

Fire-breathing demands lung capacity, concentration and lots of practice.

It is always funny when giving courses to see smaller women blowing much bigger flames then big macho men. It has more to do with lung capacity and breathing technique than sheer physical power. Manipulating the length of your breath and movements is hard work and requires a lot of practice.

I always advise people who want to try this hobby to learn from someone who has experience and to take it slow, as accidents often happen when people are too confident too quickly. Don’t try this at home!

 What do you love most about this hobby?

It’s the passion of the fire and being able to have a bit of control over the flame which I love the most. To see it developing in front of you, even if it is only for a fraction of a second, to hear the roar of the flame when it is unleashed − it’s just pure magic.

When you work with fire you have to be very focused and this concentration really helps me unwind after a day at the office.

What are the most memorable moments you’ve experienced so far?

Daytime fire breathing

Flame length can vary from two to four metres.

There are so many. One of the best things is sharing my passion with friends and people who are interested in learning how to do it. It is very rewarding teaching people how to breathe fire and to see them breathing their first flame.

The reaction from the audience is always very rewarding, whether it’s the cheer of a big crowd or the amazement of one single child. I think the most memorable moments come from working hard on a technique and finally mastering it.

Do you see any parallels between your work at Coca-Cola and fire-breathing?

Whether I’m breathing fire or working on a project in the office, there is a chance I will get ‘burned’ if I don’t execute a task properly, or take the right safety precautions!

I think that fire-breathing has helped me learn how to focus in the midst of lots of noise. This is a handy skill to have as when you breathe fire it comes down to just “you and the flame”, which demands a lot of concentration.

Do you have a story to tell when you get off work? We've started a campaign to share everyone's happy hobbies when they're #outofoffice. We'd love to hear yours: Share your story here.