Ten o'clock in the morning. Journalists are gathering near residential complex "Corona". Residents of 128-meter high skyscraper are gazing around and asking what is happening.  Nothing serious. The fire brigade is just holding a training.

Building #21 is one of 230 high-rise flats in Darnytsia district. Due to its complicated structure, the fire brigade has decided to sharpen skills here. The firefighters, however, are "putting out" the fire not very high - on the eighth floor. According to the legend, the fire started on the stair flight. The fire brigade has arrived in one tank vehicle, equipped with 30-meter long aerial ladder. The task also include evacuation of an injured person. 

According to the deputy chief of the 24th fire brigade Andriy Savin, the task is not the most complicated - fires on 23d or 25th floors are considered more difficult. Firefighters have to climb high floors on foot in full equipment and work under extremely high temperatures.

He also reminds that people should follow simple rules of behavior in case of fire - to stay closer to the floor, put a wet rag on the mouth and give a sign to firefights about your presence. Meanwhile, the operation is developing.

The fire-fighters are working in full uniform. Immediately after arrival they unfold 20-meter long fire hose, start installing the ladder and ...come across a problem - numerous cars parked near the building block the passage impeding the firefighters to work fast. The brigade has to install the ladder somewhat farther than needed.

Moreover, chief firefighter Valentyn Zelinski says that if the brigade took a different, bigger engine, it would not be able to pass between the parked cars, and the brigade would have to lay a supply line from the road.

Even before the ladder is installed properly and stable, a fire-fighter already starts climbing. At the height of the fifth floor the construction starts swinging, but the courageous fire-fighter manages to arrive on ... the seventh floor. Why not eighth? Well, the fire engine could not arrive close enough to the building again because of a parked car, so the length of the ladder is not enough to reach the eighth floor. Then the things are going according to the plan.

Rescuers are evacuating the "victim" Mykola. According to the legend, he is conscious and can move, so he is climbing down the ladder with the help of fire-fighters.  After the evacuation and liquidation of fire the brigade repositions the equipment and leaves.

Meantime, ForUm is going to ask residence about their impressions of the operation.

Alla (left) and Jeanna (right) immediately say they are not impressed and would prefer to see a rescue operation somewhere on higher floors.

"I live on the 34th floor. Will they help me and my children? Why did not they bring a longer ladder? I want to see how they will pull it up to my floor. Moreover, the parked cars are so many near the building, that on normal days it is impossible to reach the entrance. This red ribbon they put today is a showing off," Alla says.

"How will they evacuate people from higher floors? We have two fire escape stairs, but one is blocked and never works. I live on the 18th floor and I wonder what ladder I have take to get down," Jeanna adds.

Lisa also says she would be more impressed if shown the rescue operation on the 35th floor. "I live on the 35th floor, and I wonder where should I run in case of fire - on the eight floor with a little kid?" However, in response to the question about the evacuation plan she admits she has not studied it and promises to correct this mistake.

The firefighters, in turn, say that apart from the 30-meter-long ladder, the department has the 90-meter-long articulated boom, the only one in Ukraine. "If there is fire on the 33d floor, for example, we do have a possibility to put it out. The ladder unfolds in seven minutes," Andriy Savin says.

His colleague, inspector of Darnytski fire department Taras Ponomarenko, adds that every floor of the multistoried building has fire standpipes and it is possible to put out fire from inside.

"In this building all fire standpipes are equipped with hoses, pipes and fire extinguishers. However, there are buildings in which this system is not functional. There are 230 multistoried buildings in the district, but only 170 of them have working standpipe system inside. It is a big problem for extinguishment, localization and rescue operation. This matter requires special attention," Ponomarenko says.

While adults are discussing the problems and ways to solve them, children are completely wrapped-up in the show. The smallest spectator Olezhka continues to applaud even after the departure of the engine.

Tetyana Matsur, photos by Viktor Kovalchuk


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