Firefighters try to put out the blaze at the Rạng Đông Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC on August 28, 2019. — VNA/VNA Photo Doãn Tấn
HÀ NỘI — When everyone else flees a fire, it's the firefighters who rush in to put it out, despite the obvious dangers involved.
Lieutenant Nguyễn Văn Mạnh from the Fire Fighting Prevention and Control Office under the Hà Nội Police Department cannot forget the battle he and his colleagues faced when they moved in to tackle the huge fire at the Rạng Đông Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC on August 28, 2019, which has resulted in heightened concerns among the city's people over potential risks of mercury contamination.
Mạnh, one of two firefighters affected by the toxic smoke discharged by the fire, said he and the other firefighters were notified that there was a gas tank weighing about 20 tonnes in the factory and a mercury-compound warehouse, as well as 60 nearby households.
If we failed to douse the fire, the danger would have been even more unpredictable, he said.
“The fire was very large and there were loud explosions. The smoke was so thick I couldn't see my colleagues,” he said.
Mạnh felt exhausted and short of breath after he and his team had spent about three hours battling to put out the fire.
“I quickly got out to an area where medical staff were available. I tried to not let my colleagues worry about me," he said.
Lieutenant Khổng Văn Hùng, another firefighter from the office, said: “When we are tackling fires, it's not the danger or hardship we fear the most, or a lack of courage, it's the possibility that we could be too late to save someone.”
We were always conscious of the fact we were there to keep people safe, so we always tried our best to get to the scene as soon as possible, he said.
“Ensuring safety for people and their property is our top priority,” he said.
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Đỗ Văn Kháng, deputy head of the office who has worked in the sector for nearly three decades, said anyone who wanted to be a firefighter must be prepared to fight a fire regardless of day or night, weekend or holiday, he said.
“We are always ready to face danger and hidden threats to put out a blaze as quickly as possible,” he said.
Kháng also added that there were three key factors that made a good firefighting commander: calmness, confidence and decisiveness.
These factors helped commanders inspire belief and motivate their teams, he said.
The commander must be calm and confident with good observation skills to make the right decisions at the right time. If the commander made a rash decision, it could create a problem and the firefighters would lose their confidence, Kháng said.
“One wrong decision by the commander could result in injuries or even death,” he said.
Kháng said firefighting was a special job.
When a fire or a dangerous explosion broke out, everyone tried to escape, and only the firefighters were left to save the day, he said.
“It is a very special job that requires us to be brave and responsible, and have a love for the work so we can enjoy long and successful careers,” he said.— VNS