My father was a firefighter. I was seeing him at home tired and smelled of smoke after each shift. The smell of smoke is one of those you can not erase not only from yout skin, but mind. It is sealed in your mind on the same way how you can recognize the scent of people you love. After work, he set on the couch, hugged me and I interviewed him about the difficulties he encountered, but he never talked about them. He spoke about the rescued people and each time he told me that heroism is not measured in difficulties you overcome, but human lives you saved. Still there, on the couch, I decided I wanted to be a firefighter and to become a hero – same as my Dad.
“I was born in a village which lies on the Border. I grew up seeing every day the Border fence and people on the other side. My grandfather told me stories about the Borders. He told me everything about my country, culture, values. He told me a long time ago we were one nation and lived together. He showed me maps and put me to sleep with tales about the Border. I did not understand it, but I knew he was right. I did not fully understand why I had not to went to the other side, but I respected his instruction. Few years later my grandfather became ill and shortly before he died he said “The border is not to get you away from others, but to put you closer to your own people. By keeping the border, you are keeping your family, community, country. Keep your borders and respect the foreign ones.” This was not only the time I realized what the Border is, but the moment I chose to keep it. That was the moment I decided to become a border policeman.
Today and each single day I go to work, knowing what “Neither step back, behind us is Bulgaria” exactly means.
“I am a father and teach my son to be proud of and respect not only me as a police officer, but to respect the all people in uniforms. I teach him to respect not only the police, firefighters and rescuers, but also doctors, teachers, lawyers, judges, welders, drivers in public transport and all people, because we are part of a common society and a country – Bulgaria, and whether we honor and respect the work ot all these people depends in what country we will live in. ”
“I am a mother and my daughter is very proud that I’m a police woman. She knows that I look out not only for her safety and security, but also for her friends in kindergarten. What she doesn’t known is that I am dreaming for the day when the system will be changed and it will not be so bureaucratic. She doesn’t know I am dreaming of the day when not only my family but all citizens will be proud of their police. I believe that day will come. ”
“Do you know, we all Bulgarians, are sad people. We taunt the police, sing humiliating songs about police officers, spit it out and caricature the system, and when we are in trouble precisely the police officer is the only one who can help and immediately we are changing the attitudes and from “crucify him/her/” it is chanted again on “hosanna” while he/she – the humiliated, just wants to be useful and to help.
The saddest thing is that I feel proud of my profession only when people are suffering. The pride and the suffer in our case are synonymous. People think about you as professional, honour, and person called to serve only when there are casualties and are scared.
I’d like people to give me some bragging rights in the better days when they feel safe and secure, because these are days I work for. I want to be proud of my job in those days, when the pain and suffering are the exception rather than rule.
Do you know, some time ago this situation was cynical, but now it is sad and hopeless. It is sad, that people recognize me as a police officer only if they suffer. And it’s not just sad… it is lonely as well! “
“Unlike many of my colleagues, no one in my family was not a policeman, but I made this choice, because of my father.
My father creates and sculpts figures and whole life is giving life to the tree. He wanted to see peculiar for his work – he wanted his son to keep, what he and those around him were created and principles that were followed by him so many years. My father wanted to see her son in uniform, because he believed to keep people is the duty of every person, and through he was going to fulfill our family debt to society.
My father wanted I to become a policeman, not only because for him it was a great honor, but because he believes that to keep and cherish the security of the homeland is a duty. In the day when I put the uniform for the first time I felt how heavy is the responsibility I took, but I felt also pride which filled my lungs.
Pride, caused by the duty that you have and the principles you follow.
Pride, which I am feeling each time when I see a person on whom I helped and the pride that I am seeing in the eyes of their relatives.
Pride, born of love for the profession, because for me to be a policeman means to live with dignity, honor and to keep helping people.
Pride, born by choice I’d make as a sign of love – from son to the father, which became the one and only right choice for me. ”
Photo: Antonio Hadjihristov
Quite offten we can see firefighters who are fighting the firestorm and stand against it alone, but surounded by at least two or three fire trucks.
Have you ever wondered what is due to the fact that the number of firefighters is equal to the number of firefighting vehicles?
The one reason is that firefighters are few and insufficient.
The other reason is much more terrible and caused by regulatory gaps and the lack of a defined minimum number of firefighters in the team. The acceptance of a minimum number of firefighters in the team is postponed till August 2017.
In this same regulation it is precised that in indoor’ accidents, the team of firefighter and driver / most common practice / must wait for another team before entering the burning building. This puts the first team /firefighter and the driver/ in in deadlock: to get help to the victims or to wait for help, about 15-20 minutes in the big cities and much longer in small where help can come only from the distanced towns. The exception rather than practice is three or four firefighters to be on shift and this is the number of all firefighters on shift in some major cities.
In small towns the situation is much worse.
The next time you see firefighters standing in front of a burning building who are not entering to extinguish the fire, please do not be angry at them, but the system which allows this to happen.
The next time when you hear about the injured firefighter, remember that very often it happened, because at the signal responded two firefighters – one entered alone in the burning building, because other had to stand outside and to ensure him a water. There is not a third.
Photographer: Silva Toneva