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November 11, 2017

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Historic fire station dates back to the 1920s

THE Jing’an Fire Station is hidden in a seven-story residential building where residents live on the top five floors.

“It often happens that community officials knock on our doors, asking us to help the neighbors who forget their keys,” says 27-year-old veteran fireman Ye Yawei. “And we also often find clothes which fall in our area from above and return them.”

Although the fire station at the corner of Yuyuan Road and Wulumuqi Road N. looks no different from an ordinary residential building, it was a completely different scene way back in the 1920s.

At that time, it was a single English-style structure with three floors and paved with red bricks on the façade. The tower was the highlight and was used to watch over the city’s skyline, according to historical archives.

But today, the tower can hardly be seen from the outside.

“Many years ago, extra floors were added to the building,” Ye says. “But fortunately the fire station has remained.”

With the building recognized as a cultural heritage site, traces from the past — from iron water pipeline to the wooden doors, from carved railings to the old firemen’s pole — have been preserved.

“We once sought permission to install modern windows, but the requests were rejected,” Ye says.

Ye, who is nicknamed Ip Man or Master Ip, has been a firemen for eight years. “I was obsessed with TV series and war movies. So, it (this job) is like my dream comes true,” Ye says.

Routine life doesn’t bore him.

“We wake up at 6am and go to bed at 9pm. We do exercises, clean the dorm and check our equipment,” Ye says. “It’s the same as children going to school.”

The exercises keep them fit. It usually takes the firemen less than 45 seconds to get into action when the alarm is triggered, as it did on the afternoon of November 2 when they had to deal with a small blast caused by gas leak on Shaanxi Road N.

The fire station has four well-equipped fire engines, all made in Germany.

During leisure time, the firemen like to do what ordinary young people do. “We are allowed to use mobile phone. We read books, watch movies or play billiards. We can ask for leave and hang out on weekends,” Ye says.

He adds that families of firemen often send local specialties to treat them, from wild boar meat from Hubei Province to grapes from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.


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