Beijing has sworn in its first 682 firefighters recruited from outside the military, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday.
The group comprise former soldiers and young people, each of whom passed a strict selection procedure that included an interview, health check, political examination, fitness test and psychological test.
Fire and rescue services in China are part of the Armed Police Force and fall under the Ministry of Public Security. However, in April, the Beijing city government approved a plan to recruit civilians as firefighters.
The first group, which was sworn in on Friday, took part in a monthlong intensive training program to learn basic skills and how to use equipment such as breathing apparatus, hoses, ropes and ladders. They also were tested in environments that simulated extreme temperatures and thick smoke.
The new recruits, whose pretax income is about 100,000 yuan ($15,000) a year, are contracted for three years and will be assigned to squadrons across the capital.