New Bulgarian Fire Engines?

Every day in Yambol the fire station is walked past and there always something happening there. A great comradeship of firemen work there and they have had a very busy time this year with the forest fires all around the area. Of course much of the time they just kill time and most occasions they are seen mustering around talking, working under the bonnet of a colleagues car, usually an old Lada, servicing something there. Before today I had never had a talk with any of them just a good morning and good day as everyone says as you walk past.

We were walking towards the town centre and Galia my Bulgarian partner stopped for the third time to speak to another friend. It's so hard to get from A-B with Galia who has friends everywhere. This friend works in the lottery office, well more like a stand alone trailer that had been furnished actually. She was in the street away from the cash desk talking with her brother who was a firemen and while the women chatted I chatted to the brother.

His proud grey mustache was the dominant feature and matched well with his grey fireman uniform on with an old style brass fireman's helmet high up on the sleeve of the jacket. He was a well built men as all the firemen are with hands Hulk would be proud of. He was straddling a very old Simpson moped I could see the cracks in the tire tread from age and a multi-coloured head scarf tied onto the headlamp to stop it falling off a typical machine Bulgarian ride around Yambol usually without helmets of course.

I noticed he was holding a crash helmet and new he had mice in his home or garage! How did I know? Well this crash helmet inner foam cushion had been nibbled away and taken somewhere for their bedding exactly the same thing happened with my crash helmet stored in my garage.

After exchange of greetings and a handshake, I asked how business was and he said there wasn't much around now summer had ended but that was good new we agreed. He told me that is was a very exciting time for the fire brigade as they are due some new fire engines and he went about telling me about it.

The fire engines they use now are old and they need lots of servicing, not a day goes by when something has to be tinkered with or adjusted with these grand but ancient machines but they still are good workhorses and do the job that they were intended for. There were a couple of new modern fire engines coming from Germany soon and the old one will be decommissioned.

I asked how old the current fire engines were, he said he didn't know but he had been working there for 32 years and they were there then. Asking about the new engines from Germany it was found that his idea of new was very different from my idea, these were only 22 years old he proudly confessed.

Well that goes back to 1985 and if I remember rightly, back in the UK fire engines then and now hadn't changed that much in style and the German type would certainly be up there in that league.

We will see more of this friendly fireman now as he has promised to show me around the fire station and insisted he would take me up the lookout tower directly he found out I was scared of heights - The little devil! Added to which my Lada was welcome to visit the fire station if there is a problem as they currently have lots of time on their hands and will service it during that time.

The friendliness of these people never fail to overwhelm! Would I have met him without Galia my Bulgarian partner? Probably not.