Putting out blazes, and educating people about fire hazards, is the work of I Gusti Putu Gede Darmawan, a firefighter of 34 years at a fire station on Jl. Imam Bonjol in Denpasar. The 54-year-old father of two shared his day with The Bali Timesâ€™ Arga Sagitarini. I go jogging at 6am, shortly after getting up. Itâ€™s important to keep yourself in shape, so youâ€™re healthy and have stamina, something firemen need a lot of. I get to the fire station at 7:15; itâ€™s not so far from home.
Iâ€™ve been a fireman since I was 20, when I had just finished high school. A lot of firefighters were required back then and I wanted to be one. I didnâ€™t want to keep on studying; I just wanted to start earning money and have a family.
I like fire. Iâ€™m not scared of it. I love fighting fires, and the worst thing is when a fire is already out by the time we arrive at the location. Going out to fight fires is like going on an adventure, and I get a rush when we get a call to put out a raging fire. Battling blazes is also about life and death and you have to do your best to help those at the scene. You canâ€™t be afraid for even an instant. Weâ€™re there to help people, not the other way around. If I ever lost faith in what I was doing, or if I became frightened of the flames, Iâ€™d be better off staying at home. Thankfully thatâ€™s never happened, and I hope it never will.
These days there are more fires than ever in Bali. When I look back on my early days as a fireman, there were only a few fires. Now there are a lot. Back then I was much more relaxed, as there was less work to do, and I even managed to go to night school and get a degree in sociology, because I thought that having a degree would help me get promoted.
But now there are fires all over the place â€“ at markets, supermarkets, government buildings, hotels and others. During the first Bali bombing, I remember there were so many people lying on the ground, and at first I thought they were construction workers, because at the time there were a lot of buildings being built in the area (Legian). I remember trying to get them go get up, and said things to them like, â€œExcuse me, sir, we (the firemen) need to pass through here, so can you please move?â€ When no one moved, I knew they were dead.
The fire at Kumbasari Market (in Denpasar, in early May) was very strong and a friend and I who were holding a hose had it set to maximum but it was so powerful that we both fell from our position high up in the market building. Itâ€™s a miracle that we only slightly injured and are still alive. I really thank the Gods for that. After I was treated by a doctor, I went back to the scene again to have a look, as itâ€™s my responsibility to make sure that everything was under control.
My working day is supposed to end at 3:30 in the afternoon, but of course, as firefighters, weâ€™re really on duty 24 hours a day. When Iâ€™m not at the station, I have my radio with me in case Iâ€™m needed. Itâ€™s all part of the job. Even when I hear about accidents, Iâ€™ll go to the location to see whatâ€™s happened.
In the evenings, I like to have dinner with the family and relax. And then at night I go out and chat with friends to see whatâ€™s going on â€“ I donâ€™t stay up chatting all night, though, because I need to be in bed by 11 so that Iâ€™m up and fresh early the next morning.Filed under: One Day