When I come home, my children run to me for a hug

Sultan Mahmud

He had been seriously injured while fire fighting and carrying out rescue work during the Sitakunda BM Container Depot explosion. He had been under treatment for seven long months. Yet he didn’t lose hope.

Recently, he took part in the rescue operation after the explosion at Seema Oxygen Plant as well. Sultan Mahmud, senior station officer of Kumira Fire Service Station in Sitakunda, is the brave officer. He shared his story with Prothom Alo recently.

Q :

How are you doing now?

I’m physically well. I’m a bit weak in the left hand because of the operation. It doesn’t hamper my work though.

Q :

You were faced with yet another explosion right after coming back from a trauma. What do you thing of this incident?

The terrible accident at BM Container Depot, the severity as well as the screams of injured people and their relatives still ring in my ears.

I myself was injured in the accident that day. But, I kept thinking about the victims and our colleagues all the time I was lying injured on the hospital bed.

While we were just trying to get over that horror, there’s yet another explosion. We have been more cautious this time though. We have prioritised saving lives.

Q :

How did you get the news of the explosion and what did you see upon arriving on the spot?

We heard of the explosion from a local over the phone. We rushed to the spot as soon as we got the news and found everything in the surroundings, shattered. Iron shards were scattered all over.

Here and there, trucks and furniture on the building were burning. Some people were lying in a severely injured condition. Many people were screaming and crying.

Q :

What was the first thought that came to your mind at the news of the accident?

Our cellphones kept ringing incessantly all the way while we were moving to the accident spot on fire trucks from the fire service station. We tried assessing the severity talking to the people. We decided a plan of action on the way.

We planned on getting divided into two teams upon arriving there. One team would do the rescue work to reduce the loss of lives. The other team would work on extinguishing the fire. I directed my firefighters accordingly.

Q :

What did you do first?

After entering the factory, we found hot cylinders and scattered bits of iron scattered here and there. One of our team got busy rescuing the injured while the other team began spraying water to extinguish the fire.

I kept scanning the area to see if there were any more victims trapped under the toppled cylinders. I worked to rescue the injured people with importance. We worked putting emphasis on rescuing the injured.

Q :

How severe was the explosion this time?

The explosion this time was extremely severe and terrifying. The explosion at BM Depot had caused by a fire. This time it was the other way around.

Other than injuring people, it blew the roof off of the building. Even the walls were cracked and the power supply lines were affected.

Q :

How many people are there in your family?

I have two sons and a daughter.

Q :

What’s your family members’ reaction to you going on such risky jobs?

My wife always motivates me about going on the rescue work in case of every accident. She always says that rescuing one life from an accident can save an entire family.

So, she also tells me to prioritise saving lives. Besides, she advises me to keep a cool head during the rescue work.

My children keep worrying until I return from the rescue work. They worry more since the BM Container Depot accident. When I return home, my children come running to me and give me a tight hug.

Q :

How do you feel about Fire Service and Civil Defence getting Swadhinata Padak?

Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence is always the first to reach an accident spot. Sacrificing their lives, they try their best to save lives.

Apart from that, they are contributing in every sector whether it’s social or public service. I feel proud to be a member of this force.