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A Firefighter Fights to the Death

Posted February. 27, 2008 08:16,   


Cho Dong-hwan, a firefighter at an Ilsan fire station, received an emergency call at 2:49 a.m. on Feb. 26.

He drove to the T golf practice building in Munbong-dong, Ilsan Seo-gu, Goyang, where the fire started. Since his fire station operated with just two shifts of only two firefighters, he had to drive the fire truck alone.

He arrived at the scene at 3:03 a.m. to put out a fire burning on the first floor. However, across from the building, he saw another building and a passageway on the third floor connecting the two buildings. This got his attention. He climbed on top of a 1 meter wide by 1.8 meter long board and began to put out the fire.

At 3:08 a.m., when other firefighters arrived, Cho slipped on the wet board and fell to the ground, 10 meters below.

His co-workers completely extinguished the fire at 3:30 a.m. However, as they were about to finish the job, they discovered Cho’s body at 3:52 a.m. He was transported to Dongguk University’s Ilsan Hospital, but he had already died.

The building which had caught on fire was being used without proper certification and had been slated for demolition.

Firefighters grieved, saying that “Cho risked his life to put out a fire. If the station had operated with more staff, he could have been saved.

The number of fire stations operating with only two fire fighters is three in Ilsan and 79 in Gyeonggi Province.

The number of fire fighters in the province is 5,346, which stands at a mere 61.3% of the level required by law. This figure is far below the national average (83%).

Cho was promoted by one rank posthumously at his funeral. President Lee Myung-bak sent flowers to the funeral home of the hospital.

His parents cried out in sorrow, “Who needs a rank badge? You sacrificed your life to do your job.”