“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

Large-scale forest fires in Russia continue to cover new territories. We talked with volunteers and found out, for the sake of which, risking their own lives, they go to fight the elements; they asked how their work was organized, what you need to know and be able to put out fires. Thanks to the indifference of these people, there will be no new burnt villages, hectares of destroyed forests and smoke in the cities.

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

In the photo: Maxim Nerush

- Volunteer fire brigades are effective when you need to put out a small fire. We also circle localized fires in a circle and make sure that the fire does not spread to untouched territories.

If this still happens, our task is to immediately respond and eliminate the fire.

I became a volunteer in the spring of 2016 - I put out the fire that engulfed the dry grass in the city where I lived. In the same year, in the fall, I met with the guys from the headquarters of Detachment 15. 08 (voluntary fire department) and decided that I would work with them. I could not stay away, I wanted to help, to make forests, grass and marshes burn less.

It is impossible to combine the main work and extinguishing fires, I plan all trips for the weekend. If the source of ignition is located near Irkutsk, I can go out to extinguish in the evening, after work. There is always extinguishing equipment in the trunk of my car: protective clothing, RLO (knapsack forest fire extinguisher. - approx. Ed.

), clapperboard, shovel. If I’m going somewhere and along the way I see that dry grass is burning, I stop, together with the fire department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations I will eliminate the fire (extinguishing alone is prohibited by safety rules).

Before leaving, all beginners are trained. But still, when I first encountered the elements one on one, I was confused, did not immediately understand how to act correctly. Then there was more experience, I began to take a meaningful approach to each specific case.

On a helmet, I usually fix an action camera and shoot everything that happens on video. Then I look through it, analyze where what I did wrong, try to figure out how to prevent mistakes the next time.

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

Photo: shutterstock. com

When I extinguish a fire, I only think that it is necessary to stop the spread of fire. I quickly decide how and where to better approach and what means to use (especially if there is a shortage of water).

Physically, this is not easy, especially when there is heavy smoke around and there is little oxygen. And also in the forest windfall, rocks, swamps ... There are neither time nor resources for philosophical thoughts.

Most of the equipment and equipment of the detachment was purchased for donations. Some of my personal equipment was presented to me by friends, the rest I purchased myself.

In our business, physical preparation is important: first of all, endurance, then strength. You need to know the safety rules, because this work is associated with a great risk to health and life. By the way, a fighter is not allowed to extinguish or liquidate the consequences of emergency situations (as, for example, now in Tulun, Irkutsk region, where the flood occurred) without life and health insurance, in particular from tick bites.

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

In the photo: Ekaterina Grudinina

- For me, mine is not only my apartment, republic, country, mine is the whole planet . It seems to me that it is not so big, especially in the light of what a person does with it. I am sad about what is happening with our common home, and I want to change the situation for the better.

In the village where I live, there has long been a problem of smoke from burning peat bogs (the village was built on a drained swamp). Once I accidentally met the chief of staff of the Volunteer Corps of Lake Baikal (DCB), found out that these people are extinguishing peat bogs in the Kabansky district of the Republic of Buryatia.

We exchanged contacts, and began to go out with them to extinguish. Then I was sent to the training camp of the Russian branch of Green86eace. Now I coordinate the work of the corps, we are engaged not only in extinguishing fires, but also in general in eliminating the consequences of emergencies: we sort out blockages in settlements, pump out water after floods, collect and distribute humanitarian aid.

When I first turned out to put out, I experienced a feeling of insecurity - as always when working with something new. Then I went to a peat fire, this is a more "calm" type of fire - the fire does not run away from you.

The greatest danger is smoke, but you can always get around it and work from the side where the wind blows. Another danger - you can fall into a burning peat bog, the temperature there can be up to 600 degrees Celsius. As we gain experience, we learn to distinguish between dangerous places, and we are protected by high-quality equipment.

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

Photo: shutterstock. com

I used to go to extinguish fires only on weekends, now my work schedule allows me to do this more often.

Desire to win helps to cope with difficulties morally. Defeat this fire here and now. Save, save plants, grass, bushes, flowers, trees, animals.

In a fire, we never work alone. Always in groups of two to three people.

During preparation, we study the general points, but each fire needs its own approach. Knowing safety precautions, having personal protective equipment and the necessary equipment (it is different for different types of ignition), you can extinguish fires successfully.

Physical fitness is important, but this does not mean that untrained people cannot help. In addition to those who work on the edge of the fire, there are those who take photos, shoot videos, write posts about our work, help repair equipment and vehicles, prepare food for volunteers, and look for money for our work (fundraising and crowdfunding specialists). We also need those who know how to work with a quadrocopter, orient themselves in cartography, and carry out remote monitoring .

.. We have many tasks - there is work for everyone.

In Russia, several thousand people become fire volunteers every year, only hundreds of them constantly help put out fires. This is normal, people are looking for themselves.

There remain those for whom fire volunteering is important, and these are people on whom everything rests.

I do this so that my children and grandchildren can breathe fresh air, roam the clear forest, and swim in clear water. Because it is necessary and important. Because, having returned from the quenching, I feel that the day was lived not in vain.

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

In the photo on the left: Dmitry Petrov

- I joined the unit of voluntary forest firefighters in 2014.

There were severe fires in Chita, one day my friends and I went to see if my summer cottage was in order. It turned out that not only she, but the whole cooperative was burned down. We drove on, thought that someone might need our help. At the entrance to the village of Smolenka, a grandfather ran up to us with shovels and water: "Help, please!" For two or three days we stayed in Smolenka, saving houses.

As soon as I returned home, I found contacts of the head of the volunteer forest fire detachment of Transbaikalia.

He made an appointment for me. I’m looking at the RLO guys, asking: “Are you working in the Ministry of Emergencies?” It turned out that no, they bought everything themselves. And so it all began.

It’s difficult to combine volunteering with work, you have to use the weekend to go on fires. There are 43 people in our squad.

5-10 people are able to gather if necessary. In our region, in April 2019, large territories were covered by fire. Burned and settlements. We still carry humanitarian aid there.

We work together with professionals.

The authorities do not always have the strength and resources to extinguish fires. We are trying to establish close interaction. But all the same, there are more people who have a pain in their souls who care; Now we are working with the guys from the search squad them. Kostya Dolgova and the Union of Volunteers of Russia. In the Trans-Baikal Territory, we organized the headquarters of volunteers.

Probably, something personal should happen to a person, this becomes the motivation for joining the squad. There are not many real fanatics. Why am I doing this?

I want my child to admire our most beautiful in the world Ledum, birch, pine. The main thing for me is the love of nature, of the Trans-Baikal Territory. When you have done your job, you will look back at the site that you have defended - it is whole, untouched by fire.

This is an indescribable feeling.

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

- 2015, the inhabitants of Buryatia, was remembered for catastrophic fires. According to official figures, about 800 thousand hectares of forest burned down. There was severe smoke, there were not enough people to extinguish fires, not all foresters and the Ministry of Emergencies could reach all places. To help, a group of initiative people created the Volunteer Corps of Lake Baikal (DCB).

I joined this movement at the end of 2015. I do volunteering in my free time: on weekends or during vacations. I teach forestry at the university, some of the students wanted to follow my example and now they are also putting out fires.

In CST, I learned to work in a team with like-minded people, there is no need to repeat requests several times, everyone understands everything the first time. The guys saw everything in practice, they know everything themselves.

I like this atmosphere. We are creating camps (DCB from August 12 to 16, 2019 will hold a training camp on the shore of Lake Baikal. - Approx. Ed. ), training courses, accepting new volunteer volunteers, introducing them to our important business.

Of course, we ourselves go out to extinguish the fires.

Over the past few years, government organizations and volunteer associations have been working together. This allowed in 2018 to significantly reduce the level of fire hazard in Buryatia. But this year throughout Siberia, a lot of combustible material (dry branches, grass) has accumulated in the forests, plus the summer turned out to be hot. In such conditions, the forest can catch fire from a single spark.

If a strong wind blows, the fire can spread over vast territories in a short period of time.

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

Photo: shutterstock. com

Professionals must operate in hard-to-reach areas. Volunteers can help in areas that are closer to human settlements, their activities should be aimed at preventing fires. It can be work with the population.

Volunteers also help in extinguishing peatland fires - often foresters, the Ministry of Emergencies, and the administration do not do this. Volunteers patrol the forests, make sure that there are no arsons.

The main quality of any volunteer - is openness , desire to change for the better for the better , to develop a civil society . And this is also a big responsibility for our nature , for the environment before our descendants .

“Mine is the whole planet”: why people become voluntary forest firefighters and how they save the forest from fire

In the photo on the left: Pyotr Kurmaev

- A couple of years ago an invitation came to the administration of my area to the training camp, which was conducted by voluntary forest firemen .

I was sent to see what and how. I went once, then again and again and stayed in this business for a long time.

Reluctance to stay away and be indifferent . I want to do something , that would be useful for society , for nature . If the peatlands , are burning, imagine , what smoke is ? Everyone breathes it ! And if an elderly person , if you have asthma ? I don’t want to look at all this from the side of .

Especially since I have a lot of free time , so I try to keep up with every exit .

Now I coordinate the groups and go out to the fires myself. The latter was extinguished literally four days ago (the interview took place on August 6, 2019. - Approx. Ed.

). I also created a team of six people in my village - we work together with foresters. About 120 volunteers were attracted to the last major fire from the entire region.

I don’t really think about anything during extinction. I have a problem, and I need to solve it.

It doesn’t matter, impassable places or mountainous terrain. The main thing is to stop the fire. Physical training here does not play the most important role, questions are asked before every firefight: does anyone have chronic illnesses, allergies, does someone feel unwell and wants to refuse to work in the detachment today. If a person does not feel well, anything can happen, once again it is better not to risk it.

There are many volunteers now.

But immediately, before serious fires, we do not allow them - let them undergo training first. We do not have big problems with equipment and a special form for volunteers. There are difficulties with the delivery of people and equipment to the fires: there is no roomy four-wheel drive car.

Volunteers - this is a certain circle of people , who cannot afford to stay away in the situation , when the forest burns . Some people think : ой , someone- then another will come and put out without me .

People passing by cars , see the source of fire and cannot even call . They think like this : probably someone the other has already called . One hundred people passed by, and everyone thought so . And in these 2-3 hours, a catastrophe can happen.

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