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Nation's firefighters strive to get back to saving lives

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Firefighters and some labor unions protested in front of the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday, demanding that the government review their job duties and allow them to focus on responding to emergency situations, the National Association for Firefighters' Rights (NAFR) said yesterday.

The NAFR said that the duties of firefighters are rather complicated, as they are required to help remove beehives, save cats and open doors for people who forget to bring their keys with them.

Yu Tsung-han of the NAFR said that many firefighters also hope the government can fill all the positions open for firefighters so there will be sufficient people to take care of emergency situations.

According to the NAFR, there are over 13,000 firefighter positions currently available in Taiwan.

“It is not that firefighters do not love animals,” said Yu. “Firefighters love and care for life the most, but when we are understaffed, the animal rescue jobs should be handed over to other professional departments.”

According to the NAFR, the Fire Services Act clearly states that preventing fires, providing rescue operations and first aid to maintain public safety, and protecting the life and property of the people are the main job duties for firefighters.

The NAFR said the key to successfully saving lives depends on whether or not there are enough firefighters to immediately respond and arrive at the scene to perform their duties.

However, the NAFR said, most of the local fire departments are understaffed now because local governments do not have enough funding to increase the number of firefighters.

The National Fire Agency said local fire departments should demand that local governments respond to their requests, adding that the agency is glad to see that firefighters can focus on their main job duties to protect the lives and property of the people.

A 49-year-old firefighter working for the Nantou County Fire Department was seriously injured recently when attempting to rescue a cat that was trapped on a rooftop. According to firefighters who were at the scene, the woman who called in to report the case blamed the firefighter's injury on not enough training and demanded that more firefighters come to the scene and rescue the cat.

The chief of Nantou County Fire Department said that the main duty for firefighters is to save people's lives and local agricultural departments can be in charge of capturing or rescuing dogs and cats.

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