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Were Deaths of So Many Firemen Necessary?

It is reported that 20 firemen have been confirmed dead in the fire in Hengyang in central China's Hunan Province on Monday.

The accident also left 18 people injured, including 14 firemen and 4 journalists who were reporting the blaze.

With the exact cause of the fire under investigation, the culprits are still to be revealed.

But the courage and dauntlessness showed by the firemen is admirable and beyond any doubt.

They were doing their jobs and did them well: all citizens dwelling in the building were evacuated safely soon after the fire broke out early in the morning.

When the building collapsed on the firemen, they were in the building, trying to put out the last flames and save the property of citizens.

That is why most of the casualties in this accident are firemen.

We feel really sorry for those who have died, most of whom are only around 20 years old.

However, people with a cool mind cannot help asking questions.

As a professional, the fire chief must have accumulated experiences in fighting different fires. So he should have had a rough idea whether the building was on the brink of collapse.

Hence, doubts arise on his training and professional skills.

As organized professionals, the firemen should also be subject to proper on-the-spot instructions as to their actions.

The person who was in charge during the fire, supposedly with a rich expertise, should have known better than risking his men's lives.

We doubt whether he performed his job properly. Our doubts on the two points do not compromise our respect for those who risked and are risking their lives to perform their duties.

On the contrary, we raise the questions just because of our sincere concern over their lives and welfare.

(China Daily November 8, 2003)

Death Toll from Blaze Stands at 20
Fire Kills 14 Firemen, Injures 16
Building Fire Kills Two Fire fighters, 18 Missing
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