Firefighters protest over job requirement of catching snakes, bees

Members of a firefighters' rights group protested in front of the Executive Yuan on Friday over being required to capture snakes and wasps as part of their jobs, saying that they have been risking their lives performing these non-firefighting tasks for which they have received little training.

"Firefighters in Taiwan receive no training in capturing wasps, snakes, cats, dogs, wild boar or other animals. The equipment is also casually handed out to the firefighters. With no good training and equipment, how can we ensure the safety of firefighters when they are on duty?" asked Yu Tsung-han (???), deputy head of the National Association for Firefighters' Rights.

"Will you ask an emergency room doctor to help fix your car? You definitely wouldn't," Yu said.

The group called on the government to increase the manpower at fire departments and agriculture departments around Taiwan, and to assign agriculture departments to be in charge of these animal- capture tasks.

They also urged the Executive Yuan to convene a coordination meeting on who should be responsible for such tasks, and to allow firefighter representatives to participate in the meeting.

Records in recent years show that firefighters have died or have been seriously injured performing such tasks, including one whose finger was amputated after being bitten by a cobra, said Cheng Ya-ling (???), secretary-general of the association.

One of the firefighters at the rally said he had never received formal training on how to capture snakes or wasps, and does not have knowledge about the types and behaviors of such animals.

"Our superiors handed us snake hooks, sacks and protective clothing, and we had to bite the bullet and go for it," he said.

Fang Te-sheng (???), an official from the Executive Yuan's Department of the Interior, Health and Welfare, and Labor, who met with the protesters, said the voices of the firefighters have been heard and that the Ministry of the Interior will further evaluate the matter.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel