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  • This is a day in the life of a Japanese firefighter

  • This is Soushi

  • a 22 year old firefighter in Tokyo

  • and he's just waking up to start his day

  • This may look like a regular Japanese apartment

  • but it's known as

  • 'Tanshin Taikishukusa' in Japanese

  • which directly translated means

  • "A single waiting dormitory"

  • as it's provided by the fire department

  • In an emergency situation,

  • such as a large natural disaster,

  • it makes it easy for the firefighters living here

  • to quickly gather and help with any efforts

  • Do all firefighters live in this type of facility?

  • Soushi usually eats breakfast at home

  • making sure he fuels up before his shift

  • I guess that chocolate spread on his toast

  • gets him up for the day ahead

  • Like most Japanese salarymen

  • he also wears a suit to work,

  • even though his office commute

  • is only a 10 minute walk away

  • Soushi is in his fourth year as a shoboshi,

  • in English a firefighter

  • After high school in Hiroshima

  • he studied for the firefighter exam

  • for one year while working at a yakitori restaurant

  • After passing, he relocated to Tokyo

  • I am back with another "Day in the Life"

  • This one is going to be special

  • because we're doing a full 24 hours

  • Soushi should be coming around the corner right now

  • let's see how he's doing this morning

  • Good morning.

  • Did you sleep well last night?

  • And this is Soushi's office,

  • the Joto Fire Station, Tokyo Sunamachi branch

  • In Tokyo there are a total of 303 fire stations coving the entire area

  • with about 18,600 firefighters at the ready

  • Although the fire station has an elevator

  • it's fairly standard for Japanese firefighters

  • to use the stairs throughout the day

  • Soushi, what's that?

  • In Japan, firefighters have 10 different ranks

  • Badges have different numbers of stars & stripes

  • All firefighters like Soushi start at the 1st rank,

  • one star and one stripe

  • To earn a promotion to the next rank, the department will review

  • Soushi's performance and test results after around four years

  • So he's almost there!

  • And to become a firefighter in Tokyo

  • applicants must pass an exhaustive

  • fire department recruitment examination

  • that's held only once a year

  • Which includes both a written and physical exam

  • Each year there are only a limited number of positions

  • so becoming a Japanese firefighter

  • is highly competitive

  • Last year only 1 out of 14 applicants,

  • about seven percent,

  • were able to pass the full exam

  • Soushi, what are you doing now?

  • Apparently every day headquarters

  • sends documents to all the firefighters,

  • so one of his first tasks in the morning is to read through all of the material

  • What are you doing now?

  • In Japan, the firefighters work a 24-hour shift

  • and it officially commences at a large meeting called 'daikotai'

  • The previous day's shift lines up on one side

  • while the incoming shift lines up on another

  • During the meeting, the previous team will inform

  • the incoming shift all of the details

  • for any incidents during their shift

  • Such as locations,

  • how many times they were sent out, and any other important matters

  • This is one of the most critical points of the day

  • as all of the information must be transferred accurately

  • In case there's an event or disaster

  • the firefighters must always act quickly and safely

  • based on the information they have

  • Right now they're doing all of their morning checks

  • They have to do this to make sure all the equipment is working

  • as well as making sure

  • all of the vehicles are working properly

  • Oh! Soushi's putting on his bokai

  • AKA bunker gear

  • As part of his own morning inspection,

  • Soushi must fully try on his gear

  • to ensure that every piece is working properly

  • Literally, his life depends on it

  • After verifying his equipment,

  • the team must work together to inspect the fire truck

  • Everything is checked, from the lights

  • all the way down to each door compartment opening smoothly

  • Because in an emergency situation, every second counts

  • Next the team inspects their firefighting equipment

  • to ensure that it's also in working order

  • The check for each individual piece of equipment

  • is methodical and the entire process

  • must be committed to the firefighter's memory

  • It looks like they're finishing up right now

  • That was a pretty comprehensive check

  • Let's see what's next

  • And now it looks like they're doing their morning stretches

  • They're all doing it all in one motion,

  • which is pretty cool

  • Oh look, it's Soushi leading the group

  • After stretches they quickly gear back up

  • This time inspecting each other's gear

  • After this,

  • the team continues on with their daily firefighting training

  • What are you doing right now?

  • Rolling removes all the air bubbles

  • and folding it as such is just the most efficient way to start

  • before it gets extended during the live drill

  • Apparently the Kanji character on the hose identifies the fire station

  • Useful in real life fire situations

  • as there could be more than 10 fire trucks involved

  • That's a lot of hose!

  • Oh it looks like they're just about to start

  • Japanese firefighters are trying

  • to get ready in under 60 seconds

  • Full gear plus verifying

  • the incident destination and route on a map

  • That's so fast!

  • In today's drill,

  • Soushi and his team are simulating the rescue

  • of a person on the second floor of a burning building

  • Every day the firefighters must drill different sitations

  • in order to be prepared for

  • whatever future incident or disaster may happen

  • In Soushi's first call as a firefighter

  • he had to help rescue a person who fell down from a high location

  • But being his first time

  • his hands were shaking so badly he couldn't perform

  • Luckily with the support and encouragement from his team,

  • in addition to hard work on these type of training drills,

  • he was able to overcome

  • the nervousness he had on his first outing

  • He now operates with confidence

  • In an actual fire,

  • the entire room is usually engulfed with black smoke

  • and likely visibility close to zero

  • So firefighters are trained

  • to kick their legs out to check their surrounding

  • Oh, they found him!

  • Once the person is evacuated from inside

  • the team must get the person down to the ground level

  • If they are unable to make it down on their own

  • the team is trained to secure them via ropes

  • and lower them down safely

  • Wow that was intense

  • I could only imagine what a real fire would be like

  • That looks heavy

  • How much does all of your gear weigh?

  • Although Soushi just completed an exhausting fire drill

  • he and his team must be diligent

  • and ready their gear right after the training

  • Again, in case they're called out to a real fire

  • In Japan, firefighters not only

  • fight fires and go out on emergency calls,

  • but they also assist local residents with permits

  • and safety fire related matters

  • This resident is here to register for a fire safety seminar

  • Soushi helps the resident complete the forms

  • but he's still relatively new and learning the ropes

  • So when he's unsure about something

  • he checks with his superiors on proper procedures

  • Do firefighters have a specific job in the office?

  • It looks like Soushi's going to be tied up for a bit

  • So while he's doing that

  • let's go explore this place

  • Just behind me, it looks like their training room

  • They have some weights, they have a bench,

  • they have a pull-up bar, a dip bar,

  • and it looks like they have a squatting rack as well

  • Hmm the fire truck looks a little bit lonely

  • I've always been curious to see what's behind

  • those compartment doors

  • All right, first let's see what's in this one

  • Oh wow, can you see that?

  • That's the searchlight system Soushi was inspecting earlier,

  • used in smoky blacked out conditions

  • Not so interesting here.

  • Nice more hose

  • Plus ropes and an AED

  • A fire hydrant pipe attachment used

  • when the fire truck can't enter a place

  • Extra boots

  • Ok, that's this side

  • Let's see the other side

  • Cool, a foam sprayer when water isn't enough

  • or I guess if they're throwing a party

  • Some extra tanks

  • Oh, what are those orange plates?

  • Nice, I see what they did here

  • Damn, seems pretty organized to me

  • Oh look behind me it says 'emergency equipment storage'

  • Let's check what's inside

  • Wow I didn't expect them to have all this cool stuff in here

  • Looks like they have spare oxygen tanks,

  • a whole bunch of ropes, a stretcher

  • Oh wow even a hydraulic powered cutter

  • to cut through metal

  • Looks like there's a real fire going on right now

  • So we had to stop

  • All right, so they just got back

  • Apparently there was no actual fire

  • Let's see what happened

  • Soushi, what happened?

  • Interestingly the number one cause

  • of fires in Japan is smoking

  • and the second, arson

  • So what now?

  • Yay, finally lunch time!

  • It looks like he's having

  • yourinji fried chicken, fried rice, chicken soup, and yogurt

  • Soushi, do you always buy lunch at the konbini?

  • He used to be able to have lunch with his colleagues,

  • but because of COVID,

  • everyone needs to sit apart from each other during meals

  • After lunch,

  • he has a meeting to go over the afternoon tasks

  • and discuss other important matters

  • Oh, that's the head of the fire station

  • It's typical in a traditional Japanese office

  • for the most senior person to sit at the head of the office like this

  • With their desk slightly separated from the main island of desks

  • Nice, time to take a ride

  • Soushi is an official driver

  • for one of the two types of fire trucks at the station,

  • the Sosuisha fire truck

  • There are several types in Japan even larger,

  • but because many roads in Tokyo are narrow

  • these trucks are sized to maneuver safely and quickly

  • through Tokyo streets

  • The Sosuisha truck usually arrives second on the scene

  • parking next to the fire hydrant

  • and pumping water to the Sankosa truck arriving first

  • and parked closest to the fire

  • What are you doing right now?

  • In Japanese it's called 'suiri chosa'

  • The firefighters inspect fire hydrants in the area

  • 2-3 times a month to ensure it's working properly

  • Also, the manhole covers sometimes get stuck

  • due to constant car and people traffic

  • So the inspection confirms that

  • it's easily accessible during an emergency

  • Is this one working okay?

  • Oh they're back now

  • Soushi, what are you doing now?