Civilian rescue crews have turned a disused water tank into a bomb shelter.
From an improvised bomb shelter in a disused water tank, the firefighters of Stepnohirsk turn out under fire to rescue civilians caught up in Russia’s war on Ukraine.
In the last eighteen months, they have had to adapt to the perils of war and the needs of their local community.
A year ago they were rescuing people, who were desperately trying to flee the shelling on frontline settlements, towing cars along roads made almost impassable by mud and shells.
While working on the so-called “Road of Life,” which was used to evacuate people, they came under enemy fire almost every day.
Last December, the Russian military blocked the exit from Vasylivka for civilians. The rescuers changed tactics. Today, their main job is to eliminate the consequences of enemy shelling in frontline settlements.
Two of the team have been killed on duty since the war began. The memories of their days of dragging vehicle convoys out of the mud as civilians fled are still vivid.
Roman Ponomariov, commander of the fire department of the Stepnohirsk village, said: “We were hit not only by a tank but also by aeroplanes and mortars. We saw everything there, but by the time you’re pulling a car or a bus with people, you’re not going to quit.
” You realise that you have to pull because there is another column behind you. There are 20-30 cars, and they can hide somewhere at that time. And you are driving, you realise that if you stop, you are a target.”