China will recruit 30,000 firefighters for its newly created China Fire and Rescue Team under the Ministry of Emergency Management in its latest effort to reform the national rescue force and minimize the cost of accidents and natural disasters.
Liu Kehui, who is in charge of the ministry’s training division, said 18,000 of the 30,000 positions would be open to the public. The rest of the positions will be taken by former firefighters who meet the eased age criteria.
Chinese firefighters－once under public security authorities or from armed forest police units responsible for forest fire control－were recruited under the Military Service Law and will be managed as soldiers. The candidates should be aged between 18 and 22.
For the new team, the upper age limit can be extended to 26 for candidates with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Candidates were also bound to a minimum service period of five years－up from two years in the previous rules－which experts and insiders believe helps ensure that firefighters have enough time to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for their work.
“To enhance the team’s firefighting capabilities, we’ve established a special system regarding their professional levels, titles and ranks,” he said.
Liu was speaking at the ministry’s first news conference since it was created following the institutional reshuffle in March, taking over 13 responsibilities from 11 government bodies, mostly on disaster relief.
The formation of the new team is a crucial step to “modernize the State governance system and capabilities,” and to formulate an “emergency response system for the new era,” he said.
Liu said the team’s timely response to several natural disasters and accidents since last year demonstrated that the reform is headed in the right direction. But he added the task ahead remains arduous.
Through further reforms and policies, “we need to create a training method that suits the country’s conditions and the profession’s traits,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Emergency Management, firefighting forces and engines were mobilized 12.7 million and 2.19 million times respectively last year. About 676,000 people were rescued and damage of 3 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) was prevented.