Unofficial firefighter from West Bengal

This uplifting news comes to us from West Bengal, India.

Bipin Ganatra is West Bengal’s unofficial firefighter and his bravery over the last 40 years in tackling various fires saw him being awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award from the President.

Back in 1982, Bipin Ganatra lost his elder brother after he succumbed to burn injuries received in a fire. Ever since that fateful incident, Bipin has been on a personal mission, to save as many lives as he can from fires. Ganatra lives in a small house in Kolkata, he sleeps on the floor and tracks news on television. He has only a small shelf in the house to put up the many awards that he has received after getting recognized.

Ganatra recalls the incident that set him on the path of an unofficial fireman. He used to live in the Bhawanipore area of the city. His elder brother was working on a motorcycle and the fuel of the machine was ignited by a spark. His brother was admitted in the hospital and struggled for over a month after which he succumbed to his injuries.

Ganatra says “Now I see my brother in every single person who is stuck in a fire. The moment I save someone or control fire, I feel like once again I won a game against fire.” Ever since then, Ganatra has been following the wailing sirens of the fire department.

Ganatra belongs to Gujarat, but he spent the vast majority of his life in Kolkata. In spite of having a huge experience in fighting fires, he never wished to become a fireman. He says,” I earn about Rs 2500 a month by working as an electrician. Officials in the fire department know me by name. They treat me like I am a part of the team. I was never interested in getting a job in the fire department because then it would have become a job for me. I want to play with fire till my last breath with the same zeal.”

Bipin does not travel with the firemen to the spot of the fire; instead, he uses public transport to travel to the spot and in many cases has reached the area before the fire engines. In 1994 the fire department gave him a uniform along with an identity card. This has made it easier for him to help people. The Padma Shri award he received is just another feather in his cap.

Image source: Web Talkies

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