More than a dozen firefighters yesterday protested in front of the Executive Yuan in Taipei, urging the government to stop requesting that firefighters save, catch or remove animals, which they said have caused numerous injuries due to insufficient training.
On Aug. 24, a 30-year-old firefighter stationed in Changhua County’s Erlin Township (二林) had two fingers amputated after being bitten by a snake on Aug. 14, when he was asked to catch a cobra at Changhua Prison.
Led by the National Association for Firefighters’ Rights, the protesters held banners that read: “The Council of Agriculture shows disregard for human life and the Executive Yuan remains indifferent to the issue” and “A blurred division of responsibilities causes us to be bitten or stung.”
Photo: Liu Hsin-te, Taipei Times
Three firefighters have died and 10 firefighters have been injured over the past few years in so-called “public service” duties associated with handling animals, association secretary-general Cheng Ya-ling (鄭雅菱) said, adding that these were only the cases that have been reported by the media.
“According to regulations, animals should be handled by specialists from local agricultural bureaus, coordinated by the council, but these bureaus use insufficient worker numbers as an excuse and demand that firefighters do the job for them,” she said.
When she asked who had been injured while performing such tasks, more than half of the firefighters raised their hands.
Firefighters are not trained to handle animals, raising their risk of injury, association director Wang Zhao-cheng (王炤程) said.
As handling animals is not a statutory duty of firefighters, they do not have the funding to purchase equipment for the task, Wang said, adding that benefits their relatives receive if they die carrying out such a duty is cut in half.
Association vice director Yu Tzung-han (余宗翰) cited several cases of firefighters being injured or killed while handling animals since 2007, saying firefighters were once given only barbecue tongs and plastic trash bags to capture ferret-badgers that might have been carrying rabies.
In addition to increasing the risk of injury, dispatching firefighters to deal with animals causes a personnel shortage to fulfill their original duties of putting out fires and saving lives, Yu said, adding that the nation has a shortage of about 15,000 firefighters.
“Do we have to die for the government to remove these secondary duties from our missions?” Wang asked, expressing the group’s hope that the Cabinet will hold a meeting with related agencies and allow frontline firefighters to attend.
Department of the Interior, Health, Welfare and Labor official Fang Te-sheng (方德勝) and National Fire Agency Deputy Director-General Hsieh Ching-hsu (謝景旭) met with the protesters outside the Executive Yuan, saying that they would convey the demands to their superiors for further discussion and that a decision has not been made on the coordination meeting.
Dissatisfied with the response, the firefighters threw paper snakes over the compound’s fence.
DELUSIONAL: The male patient said he did not know that the woman had mental problems, but the court said that her being restrained in isolation should have given him pause The Taiwan High Court has ordered the Jhudong branch of the Taiwan National University Hospital and a male patient to jointly pay a former female patient’s family NT$400,000 in compensation after the man had sex with the woman, who has mental problems, while hospitalized. The 26-year-old woman has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a symptom of which is that she obsessively seeks to have sex, her mother said. The mother filed a formal complaint and sought damages from the hospital and the male patient surnamed Chen (陳) after finding out that her daughter had sex with the man while
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) should not use the government’s disease-prevention policy as an excuse to block people’s access to the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday. The association held a protest at the station after what organizers said were about 400 people staged a sit-in on Saturday to demonstrate against the TRA’s proposal to ban sitting on the floor of the main hall. In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease-prevention measures, large gatherings have been banned in the hall since the end of February. After protesters yesterday expressed their grievances at the southern
SEEKING OPTIONS: A Sinyi Realty corporate realty official attributed the spike to proposed legal changes in the territory and the ongoing pro-democracy protests More Hong Kongers purchased real estate in Taiwan last year than other foreigners, Ministry of the Interior statistics showed. The ministry attributed the spike to a proposed extradition law that the Hong Kong government submitted last year, which would have allowed suspects to be sent to China and other nations, which sparked mass protests that are continuing. The rate of purchases last year by Hong Kong natural and juridical persons stood at 40 and 60 percent respectively, with building area purchased by both standing at 47.41 percent and 52.59 percent respectively, ministry data showed. Department of Land Administration statistics showed that Hong Kongers
NEW RECRUITS: Nearly 9 million students are to graduate from university next month, and Beijing plans to use incentives to convince them to join the military, an analyst said Rising unemployment in China due to the COVID-19 pandemic could benefit the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by allowing it to attract new, better educated recruits, a Taiwanese security researcher said on Friday. Chen Ying-hsuan (陳穎萱), a policy analyst at the Division of Chinese Politics and Military Affairs at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a government-funded think tank, made the remarks in an article published in the Defense Security Biweekly magazine. About 8.74 million university students are expected to graduate in China next month, while Chinese companies’ demand for fresh graduates fell 16.77 percent annually in the