New opportunities and hopes: the story of firefighter Bektur Shamshiev

March 14, 2024

Firefighter Bektur Shamshiev from the city of Osh, a brave and dedicated servant of his homeland, wakes up every day with the thought of serving and protecting his fellow citizens. His story is one of perseverance, professionalism, and dedication.

Each morning begins with a shift change, checking equipment, and being ready to respond to a call. For Bektur, these are not just routine procedures - they are rituals that remind him of the seriousness of his mission. Every call can be a challenge that requires complete readiness and determination.

And so, when the alarm sounds, when the light on the console flashes, Bektur and his colleagues react instantly. They know that behind every call is not only fire, but someone's life, someone's safety. And every time they arrive on the scene, the fire of determination to save and protect burns in their hearts.

Bektur has traveled a difficult path from a novice to an experienced firefighter. After earning a degree in emergency management abroad, he returned to his homeland to help his people.

We face a variety of challenges, from fires in private homes to rescuing people from under rubble. But we are ready to do anything to save lives, be it flames or water hazards.

In order to improve the quality of fire departments within the framework of cooperation between the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the Government of the Republic of Korea, and the United Nations Development Programme, the construction of four new fire and rescue units was initiated in 2021 in Suzak village, Cholpon-Ata, Osh and Bishkek. This is not only a contribution to the safety of Kyrgyz citizens, but also a response to the challenges presented by changes in the natural environment.

To date, three fire and rescue units have been completed and are in operation, while work on a fourth unit in Bishkek is ongoing and is expected to be completed this year. The successful completion of the fire stations marks a significant step towards a safer and more secure future for the people of Kyrgyzstan.

The new fire and rescue service building, equipped with the latest equipment and technology, not only made the work of firefighters easier, but also emphasized the importance of their mission in the community. Now they have all the necessary tools to effectively fight fires and save lives.

The new fire and rescue service building has become for us not just a place to work, but also a symbol of new opportunities and hope. It not only provides comfortable working conditions, but also gives us confidence in our abilities thanks to modern technology.

Rescue operations can be dangerous and require quick reactions. New equipment and technology make the work of firefighters more efficient and safe.

In the past, we may have wasted time repairing our equipment that was well past its useful life and older than some of our comrades. If some parts were missing, we had to invent them ourselves, as they had long since been discontinued.

The latest equipment provided by UNDP and fire-fighting equipment have become reliable tools in the hands of firefighters. Working conditions have been improved based on the principles of sustainable development and gender equality, reflecting the spirit of the times and the desire for fairness.

We not only fight the flames, but also participate in other rescue operations. During one of the calls last year, I managed to save a three-year-old child who fell into a toilet pit. Our profession requires courage and constant learning, and we are grateful for the opportunity to improve and learn new methods and techniques.

Thus, training in the Republic of Korea in 2022 for fire and rescue service workers as part of the project gave Bektur and his colleagues not only skills, but also confidence in their abilities.

Especially in winter, calls can be caused by frequent fires in private homes or establishments. It happens that several buildings are on fire at the same time, requiring constant readiness and round-the-clock work. Even in the narrow streets of Osh, where it was previously difficult to maneuver, with new cars, equipment, and knowledge, we feel more confident. Our work has become more accessible and safe for everyone – both for us and for our residents.

But while every challenge remains a challenge, when Bektur and his colleagues take to the front lines, they know that their training, their experience, and their determination make them invincible. They are ready to continue this path, being a support and protection for their community.

UNDP has successfully upgraded fire protection facilities and equipment to reduce the number of casualties and physical damage caused by fires. Strengthening firefighting capabilities aims to protect vulnerable populations, especially women and children. Through collaboration, both locally and internationally, UNDP strives to create not only a safe, but also a sustainable future for the citizens of Kyrgyzstan.

Construction and equipping of fire-rescue units is carried out under the joint project of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic, KOICA and UNDP "Increasing the level of public safety from fires by strengthening the capacity of the fire-rescue service in the Kyrgyz Republic" with a total budget of 7.7 million USD. The project is aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the population from fires and creating conditions for sustainable development by modernizing and equipping fire and rescue units, as well as improving the regulatory framework of the fire and rescue service to protect the population, especially the most vulnerable groups.