London Fire Brigade

Fire Station blessed during Chinese New Year celebrations

23 February 2015

Station Manager, Sam Kazmanli, explains how a historical blessing may give good luck to Soho Fire Station in the Year of the Sheep:

"This is the first time ever our station has received a blessing and it was so fitting that it coincided in Firefighter Steve Bell's last week after 30 years service, almost 29 of which were at Soho.

"In fact, after we asked for it to take place, unsure if any would want to, seven lion dance teams wanted to visit! In the end, we were blessed by two separate lion dance teams. It was a truly exhilarating experience with the drums and the atmosphere.

"It is a traditional custom of 'cai qing' meaning 'plucking the green'. The lion approaches and takes 'the green' (vegetable), chews it up and spits out which we placed on the aerial ladder something which the organisers were overjoyed at.

"The lion then walks along and rubs its face on the station personnel and that marks the blessing which will give us a prosperous New Year and good luck. Alongside the 'vegetable' is a red envelope with money donated by firefighters that will go to local charities.

"We also helped the organisers of the parade by allowing some of the floats to be put in our yard while they were being designed. It was great to see them at work and brought a community feel to the station. The lion dance team that performed at the Trafalgar Square celebrations practised their routine in the station training area.

"I'm so chuffed we were able to receive a blessing as it is all part of a major project of reaching out to the Chinese community and teaching them about the importance of fire safety. In the summer we held a community day and will have more events coming up especially aimed at local businesses to reduce the number of extractor system fires we attend.

"I wouldn’t have missed the celebrations for the world."