The Barcelona Fire Rescue

Recently, we were in Barcelona for dinner. After dinner, as we were walking around we were suddenly overwhelmed by the sound of sirens and blinded by dozens of flashing lights, as a cavalcade of emergency service vehicles passed us. We soon reached where they had stopped and tried to find out what was going on.

Turns out, there was a large amount of smoke billowing from the entrance to a building and its parking garage. The fire-fighters were efficiently working to connect their hoses to fire2the fire hydrants and the police were scrambling to set the security cordons. We passed some people sitting huddled in blankets, probably having been rescued from the fire. From a safe distance, we watched the fire-fighters rush into the burning building. We just stood there watching these brave men run into the burning building, wearing their heavy fire-retardant clothing and lugging their weighty oxygen cylinders on their backs.

We couldn’t really tell much about what was going on, until suddenly we heard a child’s voice crying out, trying to get everyone’s attention. Observers lining the street heard the cries and started to shout out, getting the attention of the firemen and pointing to the child in the building above. With no hesitation, these men mounted the little basket, and started to extend their ladder all the way to the 5th floor. They also promptly extended the support legs from their truck, to ensure its stability.

This street, like most others in residential Barcelona, is narrow and tree-lined. As a result, the process wasn’t as straightforward as it should have been. Nonetheless, they expertly maneuvered the ladder and basket through the tree line until it reached the 5th floor balcony. Within moments, we saw the fireman climb out of the basket and into the apartment. In a matter of minutes, he helped 2 people into the basket, and the ladder was soon on its way down. Once again, they very adeptly maneuvered the ladder around the tree line, street lights and telecom wires. We couldn’t see who was in the basket until it actually touched down on the street. Turns out, they had just rescued a mother and her probably 7 or 8-year-old boy. The entire scene was very emotionally overwhelming and brought smiles to a lot of faces.

Rescue images from left to right: 1) Fire truck ladder extending towards the building, 2) Fire truck ladder (with basket now visible) returning to street level with rescuees, and 3) Rescuees being escorted to safety by the fire-fighters

You can’t help but be grateful to these men, risking their lives for little pay, running towards the fire while everyone else runs away from it. The fire-fighters continued to fight the blaze, long after. I was able to click some pictures to share here. Unfortunately, with all the flashing lights it was hard to get clear pictures. Nonetheless, I think they give a fairly good idea about what was going on.

On a related topic, I was actually to run a 10 kilometer race to raise awareness and funding for fire-fighters the next day. The fire-fighters, fully equipped with all their gear, participated as well. Running alongside these heroic men, especially after having seen them in action, inspired me to run faster and push myself harder to reach the finish line.