Standards must rise, say experts

Updated: 2015-02-25 07:28

By Zhang Yan(China Daily)

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Special training sessions will be arranged to extend the all-round professional capabilities of China's firefighters and further guard their safety, according to experts.

In recent years, the deaths of a large number of firefighters in the line of duty have prompted heated public debate about professional standards.

"In China, firefighters are recruited via military conscription. It's not a career choice like in Western countries," said Du Wenfeng, director of the Fire Engineering Department of the Chinese People's Armed Police Forces Academy.

Du said regular firefighters are selected from conscripts, who usually spend two years in military service, but receive little training in fire prevention and control. Those selected receive basic training at an army base, including physical training and firefighting tactics, before being sent to a brigade. Although many leave the fire service when their period in the army comes to an end, some decide to stay in the military and continue working for the fire department.

Jin Hongyu, a professor at the Fire Command Department of the Chinese People's Armed Police Forces Academy, said the situation in China is radically different from that in the West, where firefighting is regarded as a career and candidates must provide proof of their qualifications, such as certificates, before they can be employed.

"They (firefighters in the West) have to pass physical tests and strict, written exam, and after a minimum training period, they are qualified to undertake rescue work."

Du said changes must be made: "It's not realistic to copy foreign programs absolutely, but there's a lot of room for improvement in the training regimen."