By Faranak Bakhtiari

For dedicated firefighters who give up their lives to save ours

September 29, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran marks the National Firefighters’ Day on September 29 to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those who give up their lives in the line of duty. This occasion is an opportunity to pay tribute to members of the fire and rescue service who are devoted to protect the public.

September 29 was first observed as the National Firefighters’ Day in the Iranian calendar year 1379 (March 2000-March 2001), 20 years after a tragic incident during the Iran-Iraq war.

In the Iranian calendar year 1359 (March 1980-March 1990), on the same day, Iraqi warplanes attacked the Abadan oil refinery and set it ablaze. Firefighters went on to extinguish the fire, but this time fire was not their only enemy; the refinery was extensively shelled again and many firefighters were martyred in the incident.

The firefighters' battle with the fire will not come to an end, but it risks the ultimate sacrifice of their life.

It was three years ago on January 19 when the fire was sparked by an electrical short circuit in the top floors of the crowded, 17-story Plasco building in Tehran, which then collapsed after a four-hour blaze and killed 16 firefighters who had been trapped under the rubble. 

Many of the firemen present at the scene were traumatized by their colleagues trapped under the huge building and their own helplessness. 

The event has broken the hearts of many citizens that today reminds of the greatest tragedy in the history of firefighting in the country.

Firefighting history in Iran

The history of firefighting in Iran goes back to 1842 when the first fire station was established in the city of Tabriz. The second and the third firefighting units were set up in the cities of Masjed Soleiman and Abadan to protect the refining facilities.

Tehran also established its first fire department in 1924. There are currently 131 fire stations operating in the city.

Challenges facing those tackling fierce fire

Although firefighters are committed to rescue the citizens from natural or hazardous incidents, namely, fires, car rollovers or crashes, quake-hit areas, wildfires, floods and etc., they sometimes have to make immediate and life-threatening decisions in high-pressure situations which might end up in losing their own lives; so this what makes their performance outstanding and honorable.

Although everyone acknowledges the difficult and harmful job of a firefighter, it was not included in the list of hard jobs until last year when on the anniversary of the Plasco accident, firefighting was finally included in the harmful occupations list.

Mohammad Ali Najafi-Davari, director of Tehran fire department, told IRNA on Sunday that in summer only, about 350 accidents occurred daily in Tehran, 40 percent of which are related to fire incidents that half of them are massive fires.

Firefighting community is in good condition regarding the preparation of the firefighters and the equipment, but it cannot be denied that the facilities must be up dated and replace them with new advances, he highlighted.

In past few years, measures have been taken to equip the capital’s firefighting stations with proper facilities; the public awareness, however, plays a more vital role in reducing the damages in the incidents, he stated.

The most important thing in preventing accidents is educating and informing people on how to behave during emergency conditions, he added.

Firefighting is a job directly related to the people’s lives, and given the importance of quick response of the firemen during the accident, it is necessary to pay a more serious attention to such jobs, he concluded. 

 International Firefighters’ Day

International Firefighters’ Day is also observed each year on 4th May. On this date people are invited to remember the firefighters, who lost their lives while serving the community, by proudly wearing and displaying blue and red ribbons pinned together or by participating in a memorial or recognition event.

The ribbons are linked to colors symbolic of the main elements firefighters work with – red for fire and blue for water. These colors also are internationally recognized as representing emergency service.

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