Public express gratitude to firefighters in wake of Sichuan tragedy

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/9 17:53:40

More than 300 firefighters put out a fire at a middle school in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photo: VCG

People around the country have sent food and gifts to local fire stations thanking them for their services after 30 firefighters died in a forest fire in Southwest China's Sichuan Province. 

According to a video compilation from fire stations across China, which was released by China's Fire department under the Ministry of Emergency Management on its Sina Weibo on Friday, citizens in many cities gave gifts and ordered food and drinks for firefighters. Many people passed bags of milk to security guards or placed food in front of stations. 

Some residents also anonymously ordered food or drinks for firefighters via meal-delivery apps and left notes to thank them. 

One of the notes uploaded online said: "Please do protect yourselves and return back safe and sound." Another read: "Thank you for always being there to protect us. Hope you go out as a team and come back with all your members."

One resident sent dozens of cakes with cartoon sketches of firefighters in each box. The firefighters who received them said they were touched by the cartoons and did not want to throw away the box, according to the Fire Department's Sina Weibo.  

The webpage with the hashtag "sending gifts to firefighters anonymously" on Sina Weibo has been viewed 160 million times, with 260 million netizens joining in discussions.

The sending of food and snacks to firefighters started after 30 firefighters died while battling a forest fire in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, on March 30. The victims included 27 forest firefighters and three people from the local fire department. Their bodies were found on the morning of April 1.

The whole country mourned the death of the firefighters, 24 of whom were in their 20s. Many residents voluntarily attended funerals when the ashes of some firefighters were sent back to their hometowns. All of them have been designated as national martyrs by authorities, reported. 

"All the food and gifts showed that the public truly care about and respect firefighters. We are happy to be recognized by society. We also hope to call on all citizens to turn their care into actions that enhance their fire safety awareness and learn the relevant knowledge to remove hazards," Xiao Ming (pseudonym), 29, a firefighter in Datong, Shanxi Province, told the Global Times. 

In contrast to the expressions of gratitude to firefighters, some netizens were arrested for insulting the heroes who died in the Sichuan fire. 

According to the Hainan-based Nanguo Metropolis on Sunday, three netizens were arrested for insulting the Hainan-born firefighter who died in the Sichuan fire. Tianjin Municipal Public Security Bureau reported on Saturday that a man was detained for the same reason. 

Screen shot of presents sent to firefighters from the Sina Weibo account of the Fire Department of the Ministry of Emergency Management

Boosting professionalism

The tragedy in Sichuan also sparked discussions over improving the professionalism of firefighters in China. 

Firefighters were previously part of the military, but under the current policy, recruitment of firefighters is open to the public.

Xiao Ming, who has been working as a firefighter for 10 years, said that their daily exercises included physical training and professional drills to deal with various emergencies. 

The daily training is as professional as it was before the reform and the current mechanism allows different emergency teams to better work together under the guidance of the Ministry of Emergency Management, Xiao Ming said, noting that firefighters are more professional, and it also takes time to implement more improvements. 

Recruited firefighters will receive training in their first year and work as interns in the second year before assuming full duties — an arrangement in line with the objective of fostering professionalism, according to Xinhua. 

Global Times
Newspaper headline: Hailing the Heroes

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

blog comments powered by Disqus