Working in times of conflict: Palestinian firefighter's experience: The Ramallah and Al-Bireh Fire Station is in the basement level of the municipality building. The one fire engine stands at the doors of the entrance, shiny, clean and ready to go. The six firefighters on duly sit in a medium sized, bare office.(Palestine Profile)

The only furnishings are chairs, one telephone, and a picture of a burning house on the wall. The firefighters are welcoming, offering us tea and coffee; but the general impression that one is left with is that the station is under-resourced.

Fifteen men and the one fire engine, donated by the Japanese government, are the "fire service" in this area, and the men divide themselves into three shifts to cover the 24-hour emergency service that they provide to approximately 30,000 local residents. The whole of the West Bank shares one water ladder and no station has any digging equipment; it appears they lack most equipment but, as the station manager says, they manage to do their best with limited resources.

New recruits do not necessarily have to hove graduated from high school, but the minimum educational requirement is 9th Grade (15 years old). The tire service in Ramallah is representative of the other centres in the age range of the men--most are between 18 and 35, due to the physical nature of the work No women are in the fire service, and when asked why this was the case, the prevailing view was that no woman had wanted to join. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.