Firefighter Kaj Engelke hit out at young fire-starters who blamed their troubles on society and reacted by setting cars alight.
“I’m going to let you in on something. It was tougher for me than you growing up. My childhood was hell. It was insecurity, poor health, fear, violence, and no money. It was, in your view, lots of good reasons for not taking responsibility,” he wrote in an opinion piece in newspaper Sydsvenskan.
“But I have been where you are, as have many of my colleagues. We don’t buy your bullshit. While you choose to poison us, we are working as hard as we can to help this society, so more people can have it as good as us. So you can have it as good as us.”
The article has been shared widely on social media since its publication on Monday evening. Engelke said he wrote it out of frustration after seeing his workmates get sick, and in some cases die, from work-related injuries.
“I’ve had colleagues who have died of cancer. I have a colleague who coughed blood when we were training recently after he and I got covered in a big smoke cloud,” he told news agency TT.
“We weren’t the ones putting out the fires; that was the smoke divers, who have full breathing protection and all that. But sometimes the wind moves in strange ways.”
The fireman said he was thrilled by the positive reactions to the article.
“It has been overwhelming. People have called me and thanked me for sharing my thoughts and have told me it’s great that I’m doing it.”
His article is written as an open letter to the arsonists who have burned scores of cars in Malmö over the summer. In it he explains to them the role of a firefighter.
“We come to you when the most awful things happen, and you would have died if we hadn’t saved your life. We are life-savers.
“But we are more than that.
“We are someone’s child. We are someone’s mother and father. We are brothers and sisters. We are people, just like you.”