Death of firefighters
Prevention is the best way to avoid mishap
Firefighting is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Two Korean firefighters were killed on Saturday when they tried to put out a blaze at a furniture exhibition hall in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. They were Lee Jae-man, 40, and Han Sang-yoon, 32. What a noble sacrifice they made! May they rest in peace!
The nation should make the utmost effort to ensure that their deaths were not in vain. As a matter of fact, they are among the six firefighters who perished this year while carrying out their duty. Fire claimed six firefighters in 2006, seven in 2007, nine in 2008, three in 2009 and 10 in 2010.
The figures indicate that firefighters run the persistent risk of death. Besides, more than 300 firefighters sustain injuries every year. What really matters is that the situation shows no sign of improving to prevent such mishaps.
Whenever fire claims a firefighter, the authorities give the victim a posthumous promotion and a medal of merit. Financial compensation and a pension are available to the victim’s family. Those who braved the fire and lost their lives are worth more than the citations and rewards. They rightly deserve honor and respect from all walks of life.
However, the truth is that firefighters find it hard to enjoy respect from Korean society. It is necessary for the people to change their awareness about and attitude toward firefighters who work to ensure the safety of our lives and the protection of our property in emergency situations.
We have to ask the question: What has our society done to ensure the safety of firefighters? Firefighters, in fact, are struggling under bad working conditions. They have to fight fatigue due to overwork. More serious is that they have to grapple with a lack of firefighting equipment. Provincial and municipal authorities are refusing to replace aged equipment, citing budgetary strain.
Now, the central government should allocate more of its budget to modernizing firefighting equipment and systems. Only then can the nation reduce or prevent the death of firefighters. It is also important to improve their working conditions and get them better treatment in their profession.