Before this year’s Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) held in Indianapolis, USA in April, the name Dumitru Polscin was largely unknown outside of Moldova.
In this special 50th issue of International Firefighter magazine we are dedicating the front cover and the ‘IFF Comment’ to Dumitru Polscin, a man who inspired everyone who was fortunate enough to meet him during his trip to FDIC.
Dumitru Polscin is full time firefighter from Moldova. He is based at the Central Fire Station No.2 in his home city of Chisinau and has been a firefighter for the past 13 years. He is dedicated to saving lives and protecting property each and every day, and was humbled and honoured in April 2015 when he was named ‘Firefighter of the Year’ in Moldova.
Chisinau is the capital of Eastern Europe’s Republic of Moldova, a city with a population close to 700,000 people – set amid the blocks of Soviet-style architecture are landmarks including the neoclassical Nativity Cathedral, the dome-topped Chisinau’s Cathedral Park, a plaza with a triumphal arch celebrating Russia’s 19th-century victory over the Ottoman Empire and Stefan cel Mare Central Park which is named after a Moldovan Prince who resisted Ottoman rule in the 16th century.
Moldova has a very limited emergency response capability which is highlighted by the fact that only 15 fire appliances have extrication capability for a population of 4.4 million people. Moldova has 144 fire appliances which are designated as only having firefighting capability with two thirds of the 144 appliances being between 25-40 years old. A fire service report suggests that 236 appliances are needed to provide even a basic emergency response across the country.
The team at International Fire Fighter first became aware of Dumitru in early 2016 when we were contacted by our friends at Task Force Tips who were looking for our assistance to raise awareness of Dumitru’s aim to get to FDIC and his gofundme page. We were only too pleased to help and very quickly uploaded the news to our websites and social media sites.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and there is no state or department funding for firefighters to travel abroad for training so this needed to be raised. A firefighter in Moldova earns on average $250 / £170 per month so the task of raising the monies to fund air travel, a US visa application, accommodation and food, as well as the registration fee for the week-long ‘Hands on Training (HOT)’ and conference was a mammoth one.
The fund raising worked and Dumitru arrived in Indianapolis in time to start the ‘HOT’ sessions and was an instant hit with everyone he met. When asked about why he wanted to attend FDIC, he said ‘I wanted to attend this conference and take as many courses throughout the week as possible, so I could bring this knowledge back to my fire department to better educate and train my brother and sister firefighters.’
‘Attending this conference is very important to me and my fellow firefighters. I will be able to bring this knowledge back to Moldova and help better train my brother and sister firefighters to be safer in the line of duty, while better performing our duties to save and protect the lives of others.’
The International Fire Fighter team had the pleasure of hosting Dumitru during the show and also taking him out in downtown Indianapolis during the evenings to visit with his fellow firefighters from around the world.
Mark Seton, Director of MDM Publishing said, ‘Dumitru is a real star, the time we spent with him during FDIC was priceless and it was a pleasure to be able to help such a dedicated and enthusiastic firefighter. He made so many friends in the short time he was in Indy – we walked into bars downtown and firefighters would start chanting Moldova, Moldova as a welcome to him!’
For many firefighters training and development is taken for granted and little thought is given when skipping educational classes or ‘HOT’ sessions. For Dumitru Polscin, and thousands of firefighters globally, quality training and development is a luxury that they rarely get to experience, so when they do they jump at the chance to learn new techniques, experience different practices and procedures and to soak up as much information as they possibly can. Next time you consider skipping class or moan about taking part in a drill – think of your fellow firefighters, like Dumitru, who can only dream of ever having the privileges you enjoy.
It is only fitting to leave the last words to Dumitru who wished to pass on his thanks to everyone involved in making his dream a reality.
‘I express my sincere thank you and gratitude to you for reading this, and thank you so much for this opportunity. I give my word and my pledge that with this opportunity, I will do everything in my power to better train and educate my fellow brother and sister firefighters, as we work every day to keep people safe.’