Minister for Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov has stood up for chief firefighter of fire and rescue station No 2 Sergei Ganin arrested for negligence while putting out fire at Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping center in the town of Kemerovo.
“Unfortunately, the chief of team who was the first to go into the fire was arrested. It is a personal matter for me. Everybody in the Emergency Ministry’s system is like a relative for me,” the Minister said at a teleconference. “There should be an open and impartial investigation of the tragedy,” he added.
Mr. Puchkov said that his father had been a fire team leader for a long time. “I always asked his advice on the most complicated matters. And there are no better specialists in the Emergency Ministry than firefighters, assistant chief firefighters, chief firefighters, specialist of gas and smoke service and everybody working in the field,” he explained.
Investigators are now carefully looking into the causes of the fire and death of people in the Kemerovo shopping center. The Emergency Ministry is closely cooperating with all the services involved, with its scientists and specialists ready to provide any assistance needed.
Speaking about the tragedy in Kemerovo, the Minister said, that it was a very complex incident. “I had to drag some of the firefighters from there!” he said.
He reminded that there were firefighters among the injured. Some of them had to be treated, while others simply refused to get medical aid. “Our employee’s child died in that fire. And still even just a day after such a tragedy we take up our duty again, we fight fires again, rescuing people from shopping centers and other buildings,” the Minister added.
But there are people who are trying to involve relatives who need support and aid in that tragic situation. Their aims and interests are unclear. They are working the situation up at the Emergency Ministry, Single State Disaster Management System and regions.
“You can’t use somebody’s death in your own interest. I once more address to all military men and workers of the federal fire service. It is our common tragedy, it should unite us. This is a very bitter lesson that we must learn and prevent smothering like that from happening. Guilty officials have to be punished and held answerable for that,” Mr. Puchkov said.
He also spoke about careful examination of performance of crews, fire inspectorates, and professional examination of the situation the Emergency Ministry will make a little later, after they have finish providing support to the families of killed and injured and helping them with funerals.
“64 people died, including 41 children – this is a large tragedy for the Russian Federation, for all of us. Everybody who works in the Emergency Ministry and Single State Disaster Management System cannot replace all those losses, but we must help and support the families of dead and injured. Death of people is always a tragedy. And each of us, professionals, grieves about each one they could not save. But even in that hard time we still continue to work,” the Minister said.
Each five minutes divisions of the Emergency Ministry fight fires. Each second day federal-level response needed to emergency situations, man-caused accidents and traffic accidents. Rescuers are working today in 30 regions to fight floods and protect settlements against wildfires.
“We are very critical about our work. Of course we have some flaws in the response system. But we do our best to reduce the time crews need to arrive at a scene, so that everybody gets timely and qualified help. We have done a lot, but not everything. Of course all of us would want that we get to the injured within seconds. It is impossible, but we are working on it,” Mr. Puchkov said.