Dual Language Schools: Biliteracy Word of the WeekFirefighters, Pumpers, and Watchmen

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On September 11, 2001, the world stopped and tuned in to what would become one of the most tragic events of human history. It was the day when two airplanes piloted by terrorists deliberately crashed into the Twin Towers. It was the day that changed the American people forever. The catastrophic event would not have been able to end without the help of one of the most heroic and bravest body of individuals—firefighters. America has much to thank to those brave persons who undertook the most difficult task in the history of the country.

In the United States, firefighters, for the most part, belong to departments that are affiliated with a city, town, or county; thus, fire fighters in those departments are what are classified as “professional firefighters”. Also, there are volunteer firefighters that receive the same training as the professional ones, but it is not their primary job or career; they function on an as-needed capacity. These volunteers usually found in rural areas where the locality cannot afford to employ professional firefighters or where there are no personnel at all. Regardless whether they are professional or volunteers, firefighters—firemen and firewomen—should be appreciated and celebrated as heroes for, well, fighting fires.

Firefighting has been recorded since Roman times, who called their firefighters vigilēs ignis, which means “fire watchmen”, and in modern Italy, they are still called by that same name: vigili del fuoco.

In Germany, where firefighting is a serious profession, that, by law, each community and city in Germany must establish a fire station. Like in the United States and other countries around the world, the professionals go to an intensive training as well as those who volunteer. Firefighters, or as they are called in German Feurwehrleute, can be either Feurwehrmänner or Feurwehrfrauen—firemen and firewomen, respectively.

In Venezuela, there is a firefighting corps affiliated with the university of the city of Guayaba, the Cuerpo de Bomberos Universitarios de la Universidad Nacional Experimental de Guayana (the Guayana Experimental National University Corps of University Firefighters). These bomberos, from the Spanish word that comes from bomba—water pump, not bomb—train not only to be firefighters, but also paramedics, and liaisons to communities where fire training and prevention is necessary.

Andorra, a principality located between France and Spain, is one of the smallest countries in the world. The country has four fire brigades that service the entire country. The bombers (a congnate to the Spanish bomberos) of this small Catalan-speaking nation are one of the finest in the world.

Throughout the world, firefighters have given their lives to save the lives of millions of people who have been in the midst of one of the most prevalent disasters of the world. Fires can be man-made or natural, but those that can quench the fire’s ardent and voracious flames are those courageous men and women who offer their services for the safety of their communities. When you see a fireman or firewoman, you make sure to thank them for their service.

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