x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Time Frame: Leap of faith

Long ago, when Abu Dhabi was largely a place of palm frond houses, fire was an ever present risk, but one against there was little defence beyond a bucket of sea water.

By the 1970s, successive building codes allowed the construction of taller and taller buildings in the rapidly expanding city.

Dealing with outbreaks of fire and preventing loss of life and destruction of property became a priority for the authorities.

This photograph taken by Al Ittihad, The National’s sister newspaper, from this period show a group of early firefighters taking part in a training exercise to rescue those trapped on the upper floors of a burning building.

Today the fire department, which is part of Civil Defence, protects around 1.4 million people in greater Abu Dhabi with the busiest stations at Al Quobisat, Al Bateen, Al Madina and Mussafah, according to website of Emirates Fire and Rescue Company.

Rather than trampolines, today’s fire fighters have access to the most modern equipment including turntable ladders and hazmat trucks. But then as now, the level of dedication and courage remains the same.

* James Langton