For 86 years of its existence, the State Firefighting Service of the Kyrgyz Republic has come a long way. At all stages of nation-building, economic and cultural development of Kyrgyzstan, in the grim years of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet people against the Nazi invaders, in the postwar period, the firefighters of our country had carried out essential work on protecting the nation’s wealth, people’s lives and state, private and public property from fire. Their hard and dangerous work is surrounded by glory and honor. At any point of time, in any socio-economic structure, fires represented great danger and firefighting required a mobilization of considerable assets, high professionalism, special skills and technical equipment.
After the accession of Kyrgyzstan to Russia (1863-1865) there was an influx of peasant settlers from the central regions of the Russian Empire to this region, who brought in the experience of volunteering in firefighting and the simplest firefighting equipment. Interested in the guarantee protection against fires in crop fields, shopping stores, farmsteads, processing factories, settlers together with the local population formed insurance companies, entered into the first firefighting formations, created laws and regulations. According to the first Firefighting Regulation (1803) that was in effect until 1917, professional firefighting teams in cities with population exceeding 20 thousand people were formed through local allocations to the police force, to which the firefighting service was subordinate to.
The history of the Firefighting Service of Kyrgyzstan is closely connected with the formation and development of the Soviet Firefighting Service, with the strengthening of the system of governmental measures to combat fires in the Russian Federation. On the territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, of which Kyrgyzstan was a member – as an autonomous region (1918-1924), as an autonomous republic (1925-1936), as a Union Republic (1936-1991) until the proclamation of independence on August 31st, 1991.
On April 17th, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars of the Russian Soviet Federative Republic adopted the Decree “On the organization of governmental measures to combat fires” which formed the Commissariat on insurance and firefighting and Firefighting Board, giving them the rights of an executive and senior administrative body responsible for the development of legislation on firefighting, granting loans to bolster the state and voluntary firefighting departments, development of fire-resistant construction, personnel training, and creation of fire-fighting equipment. This date was the birthday of the Soviet Firefighting Service.
On April 5th, 1926, pursuant to the order of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs of the USSR, OBLMESTHOZ of Kyrgyz Autonomous Republic conducted a survey of all, so-called fire-carts created at different times at the departments of local economy and concluded that there are no professional firefighting brigades on the territory of the Kyrgyz Autonomous Republic, and the existing fire-carts are very poorly equipped technically.
On May 20th, 1926 the Regional Session of the Frunze City Council adopted a decision to establish a professional firefighting brigade in the capital city. Due to lack of funds and local budget deficit, it was decided to sell unnecessary assets of GORMESTHOZ and use the money to buy necessary fire-fighting equipment.
All planned activities were completed by the 15th of June, 1926. On June 10th, 1926 the regional newspaper “Farmer’s Way” published an article titled “Urban improvement”, which reported that on June 15th, 1926, a firefighting precinct would be opened in Frunze city, Koshchiynaya street. Fighting equipment of GORMESTHOZ was put in order. Frunze will now have a fire department, the article said. Thus, by the Decree of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic No.795 dated October 28th,1994, June 15th had become the Official Day of the Firefighting Service of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Archives preserved the names of the first firefighters of Kyrgyzstan, who began their careers in the Firefighting Service in the early 20th century: V. Tishchenko, the Kachkynbaev brothers, the four Salnikov brothers, I. Shiry, I. Baibosunov, G. Rushtin, S Kudaibergenov, I. Vladimirov, S. Davletbekov, the Abdrakhmanov brothers, the Zaryaev brothers, the four Slusarev brothers, the four Savin brothers, A. Baibosunov, F. Kuzminov, D. Grigoriev, and many others, all of whom will always carry the title of “first”. As it can be seen from the very beginning, the dangerous profession of a firefighter became a family profession, passed from generation to generation. Groups of firefighters have been international, teaching and learning from each other. Danger united them. That is when the good traditions of the Kyrgyz firefighter originated: courage, endurance, self-sacrifice, mutual assistance, readiness for the deed of valor.
In December of 1924, the Leningrad firefighters training school opened with a three-year study period. On January 14th, 1928 the first professional Soviet firefighters graduated, a delegate from Kyrgyzstan, I. A. Vladimirov, being amongst them. In September of 1924 the first publication of the “Firefighter” magazine came out. It was published under the Main Directorate of Public Utilities of the NKVD, Central Fire Department (CFD) being part of it.
In 1934, the newly formed all-Union People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs the Chief Directorate of fire protection service under the NKVD of USSR was established on the basis of the Decision of the Central Election Committee of People’s Commissar’s Assembly dated June 10th, 1934. In compliance with this decision, on the basis of existing CFD a firefighting department was established under the NKVD of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic, in order to manage firefighting activities in the Republic.
Given the heavy workload and increased responsibility of employees of the firefighting front line, in the middle of 1942, the State Defense Committee increased the quota for firefighters, releasing some of them from mobilization to the army. Recruitment of firefighters starting from February of 1942 was carried out through military enlistment offices, by the assignment of People’s Commissar on Defense, which allowed to replenish the ranks of firefighters with worthy successors. However, despite the measures taken, severe shortage of personnel in the fire departments of the republic persisted. By May of 1942 the firefighters staff amounted to 168 people of required 442 people. There was a shortage of people. The front line took away the finest of human resources, and the rest worked in the defense plants. Heads of firefighter units were forced to seek help from a trusty reserve – women. Fighting teams now included women – drivers, firemen, assistant firemen. They have performed well in combat situations when fighting fires. N. Krasavtseva, T. Alabina, N. Yakulina, A. Alifirenko, A. Kudaibergenova, K. Harlamova, S. Kogan, E. Viktorova, O. Solionova, A. Basova and dozens of others have handled the tasks laid on them by war times with honor.
In 1955, a partial militarization of the fire department of the Republic took place, financed by the state budget. In 1957, by Order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, firefighting services of the Union republics were converted into Departments. The structure of the Firefighting Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (FD MIA) included the following divisions: service and training division, state fire safety supervision division, equipment and communications division, personnel division, legal and technical division, fire-prevention propaganda division, fire-testing laboratory and technical center.
Firefighting Department (FD) / Department of State Firefighting Service (DSFS) / Agency of Fire Safety (AFS) (in various years) were headed by P.N. Peslyak (1940 – 1941), S.S. Hollov (1941 – 1954), P. P. Tolmachev (1954 – 1958), Colonel N.T. Tokoev (1959 – 1967), Colonel E.P. Golochalov (1967 – 1983), Colonel A.I. Plemyannikov (1983 – 1988), Colonel A.V. Zarayev (1988 – 1993). Colonel K. S. Sultanov (1993 – 1996), Colonel A.U. Umetbekov (1997 – 2001), Colonel B.J. Kutuev (2001 – 2007), Colonel Zh. A. Imanov (2007 – 2010), and Colonel M.A. Moldokmatov since 2010.
N.T. Tokoev dedicated 40 years of his life to service in Internal Affairs Agencies of the Kyrgyz Republic, heading the Firefighting Department of MIA for 8 years. He retired with honors in 1967. Considering the huge contribution of Niyazaly Tokoevich Tokoev to strengthening law enforcement and fire safety of the country, in 1993, the Chuy egion State Administration, at the request of the villagers, named the main street of Ak-Beshim village of Chuy region after N.T. Tokoev, a place where he was born and spent his childhood. His son and grandson worthily continued his work, serving in Internal Affairs Agencies.
In 1966, the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No.344 was issued, aimed at radical improvement of fire prevention in the country. The resolution ordered to unite, under the leadership of Ministry of Internal Affairs, all departmental, facility based and other fire departments, to create a unified system of state fire prevention supervision, to provide personnel training.
Appreciating the hard work and dedication of firefighters, in 1957, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR created a medal “For courage during fire”, which was awarded to firefighters, soldiers and citizens who have shown courage, bravery and valor in extinguishing fires, rescuing people and property. Since 1958, the medal was awarded to 117 citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic. Among them, 92 – firefighters, 5 – school students, 19 – civilians (policemen, farmers, machine operators, teachers and doctors). The first people in the country to have been awarded this medal were firemen of Specialized Militarized Fire Department – No.4 Directorate of the State Firefighting Service of Frunze city (SMFD No.4 of DSFS) A. Sagyndykov, tractor driver of Belovodskiy machinery-tractor-factory V. E. Arapov and district police officer of Rybachi town K. Chekirov for saving people from the fire.
The Government supported the proposal of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to recognize service in the fire department as alternative military service, and as of 1992 young men of service age began joining the ranks of FD employees, reducing chronic staff shortage. Movement of teachers, skillfully transferring the accumulated experience to young employees was revived, as well as the system of vocational training and professional skills competitions. Training facilities were expanded and improved, opportunities to train specialists in our own country were sought. Each fire department had a council of active mentors that reviewed reports of employees and decided whether they have mastered the basics of firefighting or mentoring should be extended for another six months. The newcomer had to undergo a course of initial training for 12-14 days, then by schedule, he would be sent to study in the FD Educational Center (EC), opened on the basis of SMFD No.4 of DSFS in Frunze city. EC had a dormitory for 40 students equipped with study rooms on fire prevention, tactics, equipment and communications. EC carried out the initial training of enlisted people and junior command personnel, inspectors on fire prevention, specialists of gas and smoke protection services, etc. Soon, at the same location, a fire department training ground with an obstacle course and training machines was established. During the Soviet period, the Government spent huge resources on training the personnel. Up until 1992, the Republic has been regularly receiving specialists – graduates of Russian, Kazakh and Uzbek firefighting-technical specialized schools and graduates of higher fire safety courses of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR.
To improve the situation, most importantly, it was necessary to create an appropriate legal framework, revise the existing norms, rules, regulations and statutes in accordance with the new conditions of Service. In order to ensure fire safety at the state level, to define the competence of each government body, ministries, agencies, businesses and individuals, it was necessary to have an urgent adoption of the Law of KR “On Fire Safety”. A draft of such Law has been elaborated and submitted for review to the Parliament in 1993. On June 5th, 1996 the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic adopted Fire Safety Act, and on June 17th,1996 under number 22 it was signed by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic to become the Law. In 1997, under the joint Orders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the Kyrgyz Republic “On technical training of specialists for the State Firefighting Service”, the department of “Fire Safety” opened at the Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transport and Architecture (KGUSTA). Ph.D. M. O. Jekshenbaev was appointed as Head of Department.
By the Decree of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic “On reforming the State Firefighting Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic” UP No.271 dated August 24th, 2003, in order to improve governance in the field of fire safety, the State Firefighting Service was transferred from jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic to the Ministry of Ecology and Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Under the Resolution of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic No.704 of September 21st, 2004 “Provision on the State Firefighting Service under MEES of the Kyrgyz Republic” was approved, by which the Directorate of the State Firefighting Service was reorganized into the General Directorate of the State Firefighting Service (GDSFS). Also, by the Order of GDSFS, provisions on regional departments of SFS and southern inter-regional department of SFS were developed and approved.
In 2005, the Decree of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic approved the “Provision on the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic” in connection with which, the Order of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic approved the “Provision on the General Directorate of the State Firefighting Service under the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic”. The Provision revised the structure of GDSFS and its subordinate units. Within GDSFS the following departments were created: department of legal support, international cooperation department and medical unit, department of state fire safety supervision and firefighting departments were reorganized into Directorates. Also, regional departments were terminated, except for Batken region and with the use of their staff, the following directorates were established: Northern DSFS (for Chuy and Talas regions) Eastern DSFS (for Naryn and Issyk-Kul regions). Department of Osh city was converted to Directorate of SFS. In 2008, regional departments and directorates were reinstated.
In 2012, the Decree of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic No.488 as of 13.07.2012 approved the “Provision on the Agency of State Firefighting Service under the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic”. The Provision has revised the structure of ASFS and its subordinate units. Within ASFS the following departments were established: Fire prevention department, Firefighting management department and Training department, as well as legal, equipment and communications, pension, human resources and finance departments.
In order to strengthen the physical infrastructure, the Centralized Poverty Alleviation Fund (CPAF) allocated 248 million KGS on the basis of the “Resolution of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic No.437-p dated August 29th, 2008, which were used to acquire 73 new special purpose vehicles and fire trucks.
As you can see, from the very beginning, the dangerous profession of a firefighter became a family profession, passed from generation to generation. That is when the good traditions of the Kyrgyz firefighter originated: courage, endurance, self-sacrifice, mutual assistance, readiness for deed of valor. Groups of firefighters have been international, still teaching and learning from each other. Danger unites them. This was the beginning of the day to day firefighting and prevention work, which exists to this day.
There is a lot of hard work ahead of us, to further enhance fire safety in the country, and the personnel of the firefighting service stands firm, improving combat skills to successfully tackle large and complex tasks.