Peruvian Volunteer Firefighters Fight More than Just Fire

During the first 24 days of December 2013 alone, the General Corps of Volunteer Firefighters of Peru [es] took care of 454 fires in Lima, Callao and Ica.

One of the most serious fires occurred on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, in a tire warehouse in the Limean district of La Victoria, which was extinguished after hours of hard work by the firefighters. About this, the blog Prensarte reported [es]:

Luego que el jefe departamental de Lima […] denunció que empleadores de tres bomberos de la compañía 115 de Chaclacayo los despidieron por ausentarse de sus centros de labores mientras atendían el incendio en la av. Nicolás Arriola en La Victoria, El jefe de Comunicaciones de la Compañía […] rectificó que se trataba de la preocupación de varios bomberos que sentían sus puestos de trabajo amenazados y que así se lo comentaron.

Por su parte, León, aclaró horas después reincorporaron en sus trabajos a los bomberos denunciantes quienes no quisieron identificarse para evitar más problemas con ellos.

After the Lima departmental chief […] claimed that employers of three firefighters of Unit 115 from Chaclacayo were fired for being absent from their jobs while they were fighting the fire at Nicolás Arriola Avenue in La Victoria, the Head of Communications Office of the unit […] rectified it was the concern of many firefighters who felt their jobs were at stake and they let him know that.

Meanwhile, León explained that hours later the fired men were reinstated in their jobs, and that they didn't want their names to be known to avoid having problems.

The so called “men in red” prevent, control and put out fires, assist with car accidents and emergencies, and rescue threatened lives, all on a voluntarily basis, meaning they don't receive any payment for their services.

As early as November 2012, the blog Nuevo Reporte presented [es] “the sad reality faced by the General Corps of Volunteer Firefighters of Peru”:

Desde hace varios años, se vienen detectando fallas en los equipos antiquísimos con los que cuenta para hacer su denodada labor los muy pocas reconocidos Bomberos Voluntarios del Perú. Pues, los equipos son inutilizables debido a averías, roturas e ineficiencias presentadas en el momento que más se necesitan, al salvar vidas.

For years now, several flaws have been detected in the ancient equipment used to carry out the dauntless labor by the barely appreciated Volunteer Firefighters of Peru. Thus, their equipment is hardly usable due to breakdowns, tears and defects that appear when they are most needed, when saving lives.

Furthermore, website Sin sentido reviews part of the history [es] of Peruvian firefighters and explains their current situation:


Volunteer firefighter in Peru. Photo by Ms. Akr on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Actualmente, si bien sus miembros trabajan ad honorem – a diferencia de lo que sucede en otros países – el Cuerpo de Bomberos es un organismo descentralizado que depende de la Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros y cuenta con un presupuesto para compra de materiales, equipos y mantenimiento de unidades. Sin embargo, muchas de sus compañías se encuentran en pésimo estado, […] [lo que] ha dificultado su trabajo, no obstante los bomberos mantienen su espíritu en alto y cada vez son más los jóvenes que desean ser parte del servicio voluntario. […] Recuerden que los bomberos siempre están prestos a atender todo tipo de emergencias las 24 horas del día, por lo que deberíamos ayudarlos a que hagan mucho mejor su labor :)

Today, although members work pro bono –unlike other counties– the Firefighters Corps is a decentralized organ dependent of the Presidency of the Cabinet of Ministers and has a budget for purchasing material, equipment and units maintenance. However, many of their units are in a lousy condition […] [and this] has complicated their work; nevertheless, the firefighters keep their spirits high and each time there are more and more young people who want to be part of the volunteer service. […] Keep in mind that the firefighters are always ready to take care of all kind of emergencies, 24 hours a day, so we should help them carry out their tasks in a much better way :)

As told by the website Doug Copp's Blog, there were Peruvian volunteer firefighters in the rescue efforts in New York immediately after the 9/11 attacks:

My name is Efrain Huaman Carrion and I am a volunteer firefighter in Peru. I’m part of the International American Rescue Team. […] I volunteered at the World Trade Center after the attacks on the Twin Towers.
When the attacks happened, I didn’t think twice about coming to help but I couldn’t get a flight. I was finally able to buy a ticket to come help my brother firefighters and police.

On Twitter, users expressed their appreciation for the firefighters’ work, many times hindered because of the daily needs they face and for various administrative hindrances:

A special New Year's greeting for the volunteer firefighters of Peru, who take daily risks for all of us. THANKS!!

Peruvian firefighters – the new Peruvians.

“We admire the firefighters’ spirit of service”.

How did [Peruvian] firefighters celebrate New Year's?

Firefighters took care of 54 fires and 23 car accidents on New Year's: the General Corps of Firefighters took care of 54 fires…

Lastly, newspaper Diario16 tweets:

National Congress proposes a life annuity for firefighters.

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