“We fight with death on daily basis. We play hide and seek with fire as our only aim is to put other people’s lives above our own life and jump into unprecedented situations in the most unfamiliar conditions.”
On April 14, the National Fire Service Day, the popular Facebook page Humans of Amdavad, published the story of Rajesh Bhatt, a fireman who has run into fire in order to save others since he was just 20 years old.
In the post, Rajesh, recalls how he was inspired to become a firefighter, having watched his own father, who was among the most senior fire officers in the state of Gujarat. By the time he was 20, Rajesh had graduated from the National Fire Service College and had been selected at Ahmedabad Fire Station as a Station Officer and in the process he also became the youngest fire fighter in the state.
A storied career, Rajesh has since rescued people from numerous hazardous situation including communal riots to the deadly earthquakes that struck the city in 2001. Talking about the commitment Indian firefighters show towards their job, Rajesh notes, “All over the world in the Fire Department the motive is that to take care of yourself first and then save others, India is the only country where we have the motive of saving others first without thinking of our own selves.”
However, Rajesh states that the compensation given by the government to families of firefighters who give up their lives on the job, is not enough and he pleads with the authorities to rectify it.
He also makes a direct plea to people to donate to the welfare fund that has been started by the firefighters themselves to aid such families.
On National Fire Service Day we bring you the story of: Rajesh Bhatt
“My father was a firefighter and was the senior…
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On National Fire Service Day we bring you the story of: Rajesh Bhatt
“My father was a firefighter and was the senior most fire officer in the Gujarat state. His name was in the Hall of Fame of firefighters as he had always led from the front and saved countless number of lives. I had grown up watching him risk his life every day and was amazed by the dedication he had towards his fire department. He was an inspiration for me and so I also decided to become a firefighter. I left my bachelors half away and joined National Fire Service College and did many specialization courses from there. After completing the college, I was selected at Ahmedabad Fire Station as a Station Officer. At the age of 20, I was the youngest firefighter in the whole Gujarat. This job has its own pros and cons; we fight with death on daily basis. We play hide and seek with fire as our only aim is to put other people’s lives above our own life and jump into unprecedented situations in the most unfamiliar conditions. In the initial years of my job I came against a very saddening scenario which were communal riots in the city where one human was on a motive to kill another human and we had to save people in a scenario where stones, petrol bottles, glasses were being thrown at us, that was a very saddening time for the city. Another saddening scenario is where a family of seven was burned alive and that makes you think that in which direction the humanity is heading? There have also been incidents where due to people’s carelessness someone else’s house gets burnt. I have seen many examples where during Diwali, firecrackers destroy the hut of poor people and at that time you feel so helpless. Your enjoyment should not be done by bringing tears in someone else’s eyes. I have also been part of many big rescue operations, during the 1988 Air India plane crash in the city, I was the first one to visit the site with my team and the sight was horrible. There were fractured dead bodies of 133 people where passengers body parts were cut off; head, hand, legs were lying on the plane and we had to collect all of them and rush the dead bodies to the hospital for the postmortem. One thing that shook me that day was a foreign lady who was pregnant but due to the crash she died and also her unborn child’s head had come out and it was full of blood and it took me a lot of months to get over that sight. Another big rescue operation was earthquake in the year 2001 which completely shook the whole city and even as a firefighter it was something new for me as I had never seen earthquake. The city was in a big chaos and whole fire department was divided into teams for different zones. The biggest and the deadliest rescue operation was done by our team where it took us more than 32 hours to rescue people who were buried under the buildings. That rescue operation is another story in itself which a small post won’t be able to justify. I had received President Award for that rescue operation. I was also called during Koshi Dam disaster in Bihar, our whole team had gone to worst affected flood area for 14 days and had saved 1189 lives. It has been 33 years since I am associated with Fire Department and from a simple station officer I have rose to Chief Fire Officer of the city and I am happy that I have been part of many big and deadliest rescue operations and saved countless number of lives. All over the world in the Fire Department the motive is that to take care of yourself first and then save others, India is the only country where we have the motive of saving others first without thinking of our own selves.
As an officer, I have two messages. Firstly, it saddens me that there is very less compensation by the Government whenever a firefighter dies in saving other citizens. The compensation is actually not enough to meet the needs of their families. Just like Army and Police we are also risking our lives to save people, we too have families but there is very little support from the Government as well as people. Secondly, we have started a welfare fund for the families of firefighters who die during the job in rescuing the citizens. I as an officer would be happy if your readers would donate for those families who have lost their bread earning member. And lastly, Be Safe, Live Safe and Let others Live Safe.”
“Readers can Contact Chief Fire Officers Office for the donation.”
The department can be contacted for further information here.
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