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Firefighters in Shanghai to Get Insurance
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All 5,500 firemen at the Shanghai's 80 fire stations will have their own injury and death insurance by the end of this year, according to the Shanghai Fire Control Bureau.

Firefighters of the Songshan Fire Brigade became the city's first to get the new benefits as the Luwan District Civil Affairs Bureau bought insurance for its 49 members last week. Firefighters will not have to contribute.

The new insurance goes into effect on January 1, 2007. In the meantime, firefighters get benefits like those of army men.

Nie Yuanhua, the civil affair bureau director, said it was difficult to persuade the Shanghai Ping'an Insurance Co, a state enterprise, to provide benefits for firemen whose work is highly dangerous.

Firefighting is so dangerous that firemen are usually rejected for insurance covering death or injury.

"I attempted to buy insurance for my family in 1997, but my application was turned down while my wife's and kid's were approved," said Zhou Jianzhong, captain of the Luwan Fire Control Team.

"I was told firefighters were in the high-risk group," said Zhou.

Until the new benefits take effect, if insured firemen are injured during the course of their work, they will receive compensation based on the seriousness of their injuries or disability.

Before the new insurance plan, the government paid medical expenses for injured firemen on the same basis as compensation for injured, disabled or dead soldiers.

Firemen and army men had the same death benefits to their families, a maximum 48,000 yuan (US$5,988).

The firemen's new insurance will not follow them after they leave; benefits will be given to new firefighters. Retired firemen will have to buy their own private insurance.

(Shanghai Daily June 8, 2006)

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