Bei­jing re­cruits civil­ians to fill fire­fight­ing gaps

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CHINA DAILY

Bei­jing has un­veiled its first batch of 682 civil­ian fire­fight­ers, re­cruited from the ranks of former sol­diers and lo­cal youth.

Fire and res­cue ser­vices in China are per­ma­nently staffed by sol­diers of the Armed Po­lice Force and fall un­der the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity. How­ever, in April, the Bei­jing city gov­ern­ment ap­proved a plan to re­cruit civil­ians as fire­fight­ers un­der con­tracts.

Former sol­diers un­der 38 years old who pre­vi­ously served in fire brigades ac­count for 20 per­cent of the new re­cruits, while civil­ians un­der 30 from Bei­jing rep­re­sent 80 per­cent.

“It’s nec­es­sary to re­cruit these fire­fight­ers be­cause the of­fi­cers and fire­fight­ers in ac­tive ser­vice are too few,” said Liu Wu­liang, direc­tor of the civil­ian-staffed fire brigade. “The num­ber of fire pro­tec­tion sites in­creased af­ter the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics, and we need more fire­fight­ers on duty.”

The fire­fight­ers passed a strict three-month se­lec­tion process, in­clud­ing in­ter­views, health checks, fit­ness tests and psy­cho­log­i­cal tests.

The en­rolled fire­fight­ers joined a month­long in­ten­sive train­ing pro­gram in July, dur­ing which they went through en­hanced phys­i­cal train­ing, in­clud­ing pushups, situps and run­ning.

Ba­sic skills re­quired for fire­fight­ers were also prac­ticed, such as wear­ing breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus, con­nect­ing fire hoses and us­ing per­sonal res­cue ropes. The fire­fight­ers were also re­quired to walk into high-tem­per­a­ture rooms and find and res­cue peo­ple in dense smoke in a sim­u­lated en­vi­ron­ment.

“The train­ing in July was the first phase of our train­ing plan. They will re­ceive the sec­ond phase of train­ing af­ter they are as­signed to dif­fer­ent fire squadrons,” Liu said.

The fire­fight­ers work un­der con­tract for three years, and will be as­signed to fire squadrons around Bei­jing, he said.

They will work four days on duty and two days off, and are on call 24 hours a day when at work. The in­come of the fire­fight­ers is around 100,000 yuan ($14,900) per year be­fore taxes.

Cheng Si con­trib­uted to this story.

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