Thousands gather for 150th anniversary of firefighting in Slovenia
Metlika, 8 September - Several thousand firefighters and other visitors gathered in Metlika on Sunday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of firefighting in Slovenia, marking the day in 1869 when the first volunteer fire brigade was founded in Metlika.
The first fire brigade on Slovenian territory was established on 19 September at the proposal of landowner Josip Savinšek. The following year fire brigades started cropping up in other places, including Laško, Ljubljana and Ptuj.
A century and a half later, Slovenia boasts what is seen as one of the best networks of volunteer fire brigades in the world, with over 1,300 local volunteer fire brigades bringing together 162,000 firefighters, almost a tenth of the country's population.
There are also 700 professional firefighters in 13 professional fire brigades.
Delivering the keynote at the ceremony in Metlika, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, himself a volunteer firefighter in his home town of Kamnik, stressed that the umbrella Firefighters' Union was the biggest humanitarian organisation in Slovenia.
"Being a firefighter is an honour, but it is also a responsibility ... when all others give up, leave or become scared, the firefighter stays," he said, describing Slovenian firefighters as the envy of the world.