Saturday, February 18, 2012

Volunteer fire fighters practicing nearby

DSCF0007After a long day of driving around with my wife and son, I noticed the local volunteer fire fighting brigade was out practicing with their pump truck at a nearby river.

I felt kind of strange shooting a video of the guys testing their equipment but I figured my readers would like to see something very uniquely Japanese. Japanese fire engines come in all sizes, from about 3/4ths the size of a US standard fire engine to a micro truck size like the one featured in this video.

My brother in law is a volunteer fire fighter in his hometown and from what I’ve learned, the job consists of a lot of long weekends and holidays practicing with equally long nights drinking with the guys. At first glance, it sounds like fun, but its really not. You’re on call 24/7 and its very, very hard to avoid meetings, practices, and other meets. This is all on top of your day job where many Japanese experience 8 hour days most times with overtime. Coming home after work for more training is really rough.

From what I’ve heard, Japanese volunteer fire fighters in smaller towns and villages do not actually volunteer for but rather they are persuaded, sometimes forcefully. This is mostly due to a lack of local fire houses nearby that can do the job or they are home owners and are required to join up and do their fair share for the community. My brother is the former, he was not as willing to join and now kind of lives a little far from his hometown to make it worth his while.


  1. Did he sign a contract or something? He can't respectfully resign?

  2. Great question. I thought the same thing too. Since it is volunteer after all. But its very difficult to resign unless you have physically moved far away. Once in always in is how it seems.

  3. Well, when you said your brother lived "a little far" from his hometown, I thought it was so far as to make it somewhat ridiculous to expect him to have to go all that way.

  4. Ah, I see what you're getting at. I should have been more specific. He's not far like hours away far, just in the next city over. My bad. :)

  5. Ah right..I got your point!

    Anyway, thank you for this post...