Honouring our fire-fighters: A rescuer is always a rescuer

International Fire Fighters’ Day celebrated at Governor House.

Hassan Naqvi May 05, 2015
Lahore city govt held an awareness walk in connection with the International Fire Fighters’ Day (left) Faisalabad city govt held a walk as well (right). PHOTO: NNI/INP


Four people had perished in a house fire in Moshinwaal last year. Fire fighter Usman Nawaz was told that there was only a slim chance that their child might be alive. Nawaz had braved the flames and carried the child out of the crumbling building. He was honoured with the Best Fire Rescuer of 2015 title at a ceremony marking the International Fire Fighters’ Day at the Governor’s House on Monday.

Nawaz joined the Rescue-1122, Khanewal, in 2010 and has several heroic acts to his credit. “I’m proud to be a fire-fighter,” he says.  Last year, there was an emergency call from the Khanewal DPO’s house and Nawaz was among the fire-fighters who barged into the burning building wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and managed to put out the fire in no time. The DPO had appreciated their efforts saying, “If I had such brave and enthusiastic personnel in the district police, I would have nabbed all the criminals in the area in 10 days.”

Also honoured at the ceremony were fire-fighters who had lost their lives while trying to rescue people.

The ceremony was presided over by Acting Governor Rana Mohammad Iqbal. NDMA Chairman Maj Gen Asghar Nawaz, Daily Pakistan’s Mujeebur Rehman Shami, Fire Safety Commission Secretary Advocate Rafay Alam and Rescue-1122 Director General Rizwan Naseer.

“I salute the fire-fighters who lost their lives trying to save others,” the governor said.

Most countries focus on preventing fire breakouts, he said. “I expect all government departments to work hard to create safer communities – this is not a job for fire-fighters alone.”

The Rescue-1122 DG said the rescuers who had died in the line of duty were true heroes of the society. He said since its inception, the Rescue-1122 has managed to prevent losses worth more than Rs180 billion in more than 64,000 major fire incidents.

Rafay Alam stressed the need to ensure proper planning in urban development. “We take pride in our fire-fighting service but we need to take responsibility of ensuring safe buildings.”

Media should raise awareness about the importance of following building safety codes, Mujeebur Rehman Shami said.

Fire-fighter Wajid Ali, who joined Rescue-1122 Hafizabad in 2010, has been an active member of community training teams for flood preparations as well.

He helped evacuate flood victims in the 2012, 2013, 2014 floods and has trained other Rescue-1122 officials and Civil Defence staff in rescue techniques.

Last year, he managed to rescue several people who were trapped under a Rice Sheller after the roof of the building collapsed due to a fire.

Sajjad Hussain joined the Rescue-1122 in 2006 as a Disaster Emergency Response Team (DERT) Rescuer in Faisalabad.

He was promoted to lead fire rescuer (LFR) in Khanewal in 2010 and was named one of the top three LFRs last year.

Last year in June, Hussain was sent to control a fire breakout at a Vocational Training Institute in Khanewal. Clad in PPEs and carrying a self-contained breathing apparatus and his fireman’s axe, Hussain barged into the building and rescued 25 students.

This year, in March, he jumped into a roaring fire that erupted at a restaurant in Khanewal where a wedding ceremony was going on and rescued 40 people.

“We acknowledge the dedication, heroism and importance of fire fighters of our country,” NDMA Chairman Nawaz said.

The International Fire Fighters’ Day serves as a reminder of the horrible effects of fire incidents and highlights heroic actions of valiant fire-fighters in saving precious lives, he said.

Nawaz said rapid urbanisation, non-observance of basic fire prevention measures, non-implementation of fire safety codes and resource inadequacy of fire-fighters were challenges that made Pakistan highly vulnerable to fire hazards, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015.



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