Buddhist monks learn firefighting in China

Sify News, Aug 21, 2010

Hangzhou, China -- Buddhist monks in China are undergoing training to combat fires so that they can handle emergencies in their temples.

More than 60 monks from 11 temples and Buddhist institutes displayed their skills on how to operate fire extinguishers, hoses and other modern equipment at the first Hangzhou Buddhist Firefighting Competition held Friday at a temple in east China's Zhejiang province.

Hangzhou, the picturesque city near West Lake, is the home of Buddhist culture housing many temples and pagodas.

But wooden structures, old temples, and constant burning of incense pose a serious challenge to the prevention of fires in the city, said Chen Liping, a senior official with the Hangzhou Municipal Fire Brigade.

Monks rushed to the scene of the fire, operated their fire extinguishers in a professional manner, and within seconds the fire vanished in the spray. The curious audience, who had come to burn incense and pray, burst into an applause, Xinhua said.

'We've received a month-long intensive training, but the safety of our temple is worth the efforts,' said Master Zhiheng, a participant from Faxi Temple.

The local fire brigade has joined hands with the Buddhist institutes to carry out a series of campaigns to turn sutra-reading monks into part-time skilled firefighters.

'Now every temple in Hangzhou has its own group of fire fighting monks, and we receive regular training to meet emergency needs,' said Master Wuhai, one of the organisers.