Category: Special Price for Social Engagement
Fire department: Chuncheon Fire Department, Gangwon Fire & Rescue Service (South Korea)
Operation: Safety in remote village
The South Korean city ‘Chuncheon’ is located in the middle of the Korean Peninsula and its population is about 280,000. For the fire safety of the city, Chuncheon Fire Department was established in 1946. It manages also firehouses in the two neighboring cities, which will be separated from our fire department as their own new fire departments are established in 2019.
The number of the operations of the fire department in 2017 was 24,325 (Firefighting 403, technical rescue 4,405, ems 19,292, others 825). In addition, it has been doing its best in order to minimize the human and material damage, which could be resulted from fires and accidents, with the various kinds activities to improve fire prevention & self-care ability of the citizens.
Especially to minimize the human and material damage of the most vulnerable in society, the fire department has been making a lot of efforts to distribute smoke detectors and fire extinguishers to them.
Like the other fire departments in the world, Chuncheon fire department is trying to shorten the response time and then to minimize the damage. But in spite of the efforts, the fire department cannot avoid the geographical limit, which couldn’t be overcome without any construction for the improvement of traffic conditions.
In the territory of the Chuncheon fire department, there is a tiny village called ‘Pum-Geol-ri’. It is located 23 km away from the nearest fire brigade. To get to the village, we have to ride through the rugged narrow forest road for about 40 minutes with a car, or for about an hour with a fire truck in normal weather conditions. A snake could be faster on the road than a fire truck! About 40 people are living in 25 houses in the village and most of them are over 70 years old. In 1970s, a large portion of the former village, where over 700 people lived, was submerged because of the dam construction and then it remained as a tiny remote village.
It could be said that this village provides the utmost geographical limit of fire service to the fire department. To solve this problem, Chuncheon FD conceived a project. It was to establish a new sisterhood relationship between the fire department and the village for the purpose of improving the safety in the remote village by means of continuous interactions.
To the suggestion of the fire department, the residents agreed with pleasure, the sisterhood relations were therefore established on the April 24, 2007 and then the activities for the safety were started.
Repeatedly every year (in 2017 and 2018) we visit the village two times a few days before the Lunar New Year's Day in spring and Korean Thanksgiving Day in autumn. The visit group consists of more than 10 firefighters including the fire chief.
In 2018 we visited the village again because the villagers asked us to repair the portable fire pump. In this case, six firefighters visited them. All 25 houses and the village hall have detectors and fire extinguishers. An AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) in the hall.
This year we visited the hall and the houses from door to door to check the detectors and fire extinguishers. We found several bad detectors and exchanged with new detectors. The number of exchanged detectors in this year is around 10. Most of them is so old and use 9V batteries. We gifted rice (10 kg *50) and apples (50 boxes) to the residents using our '119 Love Sharing Fund', which is equivalent to 2,850 euros. 119 is the emergency number in Korea and it symbols the fire service in Korea.
Because the old residents are relatively in bad heath conditions, the fire department installed an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) in the village hall. We teach the residents how to use it and check the blood pressure and pulse of them.
Aid for life
Among the residents, there are several people who live alone and have somewhat economical problem. The firefighters of the fire department made the ‘119 Love sharing fund’ to help the poor neighbors in the city. From the fund, about 32 neighbors received rice, noodle, coal briquettes including cash, which are equivalent to a total of 7,000 euros per year. And this fund is also used for the old residents in the village.
Again in this year, a group of new firefighters visit the village and meet the residents. This project is already 11 years old. In the meantime, the visitors and their uniforms have changed, but the interactions between the fire department and the village, and between the firefighters and residents is still continuing. We do not know if we were all so lucky, but there was no fire and no special accident in the village. In the future, Chuncheon fire department will continue this project for the safety of the residents in the tiny remote village.