Beautiful Ana, 27, was rushing toward the blaze on Stara Mountain: The only woman firefighter in Nis
She rescued people from the burning high-rises and from wrecked vehicles, but has no fear
27-year-old Nis woman Ana Ilic, the only female firefighter in the Emergency Sector in this southern Serbian town, was recently among the many anonymous heroes fighting to put out a fire on Stara Mountain.
Side by side with her colleagues from all over Serbia, risking her life day and night, she fought the fire, though she joined the fire department only six months ago. Many who had been on the mountain during those tough days didn't even suspect that a frail young woman was inside the bulky protective gear.
Only when she took off her helmet with a golden braid shining under it, they realized who was among them, with social media bursting with praise for the brave beauty.
Ana felt the need to devote her life to rescuing people when she as 19 years old and joined a volunteer firefighting society made up exclusively of girls.
"We participated twice in the Firefighting Olympics, and had the opportunity to participate with professional firefighters as on duty staff at sporting events. I was attracted to these people who are ready to sacrifice themselves to save others, I always wanted a demanding job, and as soon as a job ad for a firefighter appeared, I decided to try my luck," says Ana.
She comes to work happy - though she knows she can't even guess what to expect there.
"Although I've been in this service for a relatively short amount of time, I've faced the greatest challenges of this noble calling. My first major intervention was rescuing a driver stuck in a vehicle after a car accident. I didn't let emotions overwhelm me when I saw a man with only his legs protruding from the vehicle, I immediately took over the generator so that my colleagues could power the tools used to free him from the wreckage," the young woman describes the challenges faced by firefighters.
It was during Ana's shift on October 10 that a high-rise in Nemanjica Boulevard caught on fire, and only thanks to the rapid intervention of the fire service none of the residents died.
"A report came in that an apartment was on fire in a residential building, we immediately split the duties, I was pulling the hoses up to the fourth floor, which is not easy at all. I don't know how many times I climbed up and down the stairs, checked the elevators and then went from one apartment to the next calming people down to make sure nobody panicked and got hurt that way," Ana describes the rescue mission.
She says she is happy that her loved ones support her decision to do this humane but very dangerous job.
"Nobody in my family does a similar job, but my parents respect my choice. My friends are also proud of what I do. Those I've just meet often don't believe me when I tell them what I do for a living, they think I'm joking because they don't expect to see a girl firefighter. With my colleagues the situation is completely different, they've accepted me as an equal member and help me to respond even to the most demanding tasks," says this young firefighter.
In her spare time, Ana trains weightlifting - the success in this sport has secured her a place in the Serbian national team.
Video: The fire on Stara Mountain
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