Cristina Gaibu, volunteer firefighter

Cristina Gaibu, 34, is the director of the cultural center from Sărăteni village, Leova district, mother of three, and, since this year, a volunteer firefighter, as she proudly introduces herself.

If anyone had ever told her she would become a firefighter, she wouldn’t have believed. “For that, I should be a man, at least,” Cristina would have thought until recently.

The situation changed when she read the announcement for the recruitment of firefighters for the community rescue and firefighting post which was to be opened in her community. She was among the first to register, being inspired by the fact women were encouraged to apply.

Cristina Gaibu and Mariana Tulumari

Moreover, she advised her friend Mariana Tulumari to follow her example.

“Why did you take this decision?” – was the most frequently asked question by the villagers. “If not me, then who?” would answer Cristina. “No one is exempt from the danger of a fire. And when in trouble, who would help us if there are few young people left in the village? It may take one hour for the professional firefighters to arrive, while the flames do not wait. And then, does it really matter who extinguishes the fire or intervenes in case of an emergency: a woman or a man? What matters is to act quickly and skillfully,” she notes. “There are no differences between men and women when a human life must be saved,” is convinced Cristina.

Cristina’s decision to become a voluntary firefighter was welcomed by her family and friends. Her children never miss an opportunity to speak with admiration about their mother’s new role. And she is proud for being able to teach them a civic engagement lesson: “It is a job that involves risks, but I have the strength and courage and I can overcome fear.”

After taking the first vocational training course, Cristina has convinced herself once again that she had made the right decision. “I learned many useful things about how to react correctly and quickly in emergency situations. I would have no idea about some protection measures before. If people knew and respected them, we would avoid many tragedies.”

During the practical training, which was a fire simulation, one could not but notice Cristina among the other 59 volunteer firefighters from the Sărăteni community post: “We exercise a lot by working in the fields and doing other chores in our households that we don’t need other physical training,” the woman notes, smiling.

The conclusion she drew after the first exercise was that one should be well prepared: “What seems easy at first sight is not that simple in practice. When you fight in a fire, you don’t play with the fire,” the woman says. And to become a firefighter, it takes a lot of attention, discipline, stress resistance and teamwork spirit.

Cristina says she makes a good team with all her colleagues, some of them having already experience as volunteer firefighters.

According to Igor Prida, mayor of Sărăteni, there were several fires in their community over the past two years, which determined the villagers to form a group of volunteers and intervene quickly before the arrival of the professional rescue and firefighting team, as they saw in some European countries where they had worked for several years: “You cannot stand empty-handed on the way of a fire, which is why we were happy to benefit from assistance for the construction of a volunteer firefighting post in the village and its endowment with the necessary equipment for interventions.”

Igor Prida, mayor of Sărăteni village, Leova district

The Sărăteni volunteer firefighting post is one of the four posts built from scratch and equipped with trucks and intervention equipment in the framework the UNDP “Disaster and climate risk reduction” project funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) with funds of Austrian Development Cooperation, Estonia, local and district public administration authorities.

The Sărăteni community volunteer rescuers and firefighters’ post will provide services to 17 neighboring villages, with a total population of approximately 10,850 inhabitants. In the future, 10 public authorities will manage together the good operation of the volunteer firefighters post.

Approximately 177 volunteer firefighters, including men and women, who benefited from theoretical and practical trainings aimed at developing their capacity to prevent and respond to disaster and climate change risks, will work in the posts from Pîrlița, Baimaclia, Sărăteni, and Sărata Galbenă villages. They were trained by the specialists of the National Training Center of the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations, based on a vocational training curriculum developed with the support of the “Disaster and climate risk reduction” project.

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