Buddhist monks in China receive training in firefighting

Buddhist monks are now trained to deal with incidents of blaze in temples.

Updated: Aug 21, 2010, 14:39 PM IST

Beijing: Buddhist monks in China have undergone a month-long intensive training in firefighting skills to deal with incidents of blaze in their temples, which are mostly made of wood.

Over 60 monks from 11 temples and Buddhist institutes forming part of the `Monks Fire Brigade`, who underwent the training, competed in a display of their ability to protect their temples from fire.

The event to test their skills was conducted at the Lingyin Temple of Hangzhou City in east China`s Zhejiang Province, where monks in their robes handled the fire extinguishers, the official media reported.

In the contest, the monks used modern firefighting equipment, including extinguishers and hoses, rather than the traditional buckets and water tanks.

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

Hangzhou, a beautiful city around West Lake, is also known for its thriving Buddhist culture and the concentration of temples and pagodas.

But the largely wooden structures, old age of temples and the constant burning of incense have posed a serious challenge to the prevention of fire incidents, said Chen Liping, a senior official with the Hangzhou Municipal Fire Brigade.

The local fire brigade has cooperated with the Buddhist Institute and mounted a series of campaigns to turn full-time 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.

Buddhist monks, who were shunned when the ruling Chinese Communist Party followed more rigid Marxist ideology, are now staging a slow comeback as their temples regained official patronage.

Recently, a Buddhist temple in Nanjing had enshrined the recently-found relics of Buddha in a nationwide telecast ceremony.