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On Friday, 8 May, Latvijas Banka is issuing a new 5 euro silver collector coin 150 Years of Firefighting in Latvia. The coin honours the firefighters and rescuers for their professionalism and heroic acts of bravery for the good of the nation.

Its graphic design has been created by Henrihs Vorkals, and the author of the plaster model is Ligita Franckeviča. The coin has been struck by Koninklijke Nederlandse Munt (the Netherlands). The obverse of the coin features the images of firefighters and firefighting symbols. The reverse of the coin shows a fully-equipped firefighters' team in a horse-drawn cart.

The human history abounds in smaller and bigger disasters brought or caused by fire. With fires, calamities and smaller everyday accidents gaining in diversity and complexity, firefighting methods and organisational procedures as well as equipment and technologies were evolving to become more specific and advanced over time, and firefighting gradually entered a new phase, during which volunteer brigades turned into professional or career divisions.   

In Latvia, the very first firefighters' brigade was formed in 1845 in Daugavpils, then Dinaburg of Vitebsk gubernia. The first firefighting unit in Riga emerged in 1864; the first fire it extinguished on 17 May 1865 burnt someplace in the old town. Riga was immediately followed by Mītava (currently Jelgava), with volunteer fire brigades popping up one after another and putting out bursting flames elsewhere in Latvia. Prior to World War II, there were well over 200 firefighting brigades all in all.

At present, Latvia has a service for firefighting and rescue meeting international standards, with its routine functions expanding also in the area of fire safety and civil protection. The State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia is an active participant in the programmes of the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department of the European Commission and theUN Officefor the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The collector coin 150 Years of Firefighting in Latvia is legal tender in the Republic of Latvia (yet hardly to be found in circulation, as collector coins in general are miniature works of art, highly admired and demanded by numismatic community and other interested parties). Its maximum mintage is limited to 10 000 coins.

As of 8 May, this new silver collector coin will be on sale at Latvijas Banka Cashier's Offices (K. Valdemāra iela 1B in Riga and Teātra iela 3 in Liepāja) and such traditional points of sale as banks and souvenir and jewellery shops. The price of the coin at Latvijas Banka Cashier's Offices is 35.99 euro. The list of coins on sale at Latvijas Banka Cashier's Offices is available at https://m.bank.lv/en/coins-for-sale. It shows that a vast range of thematically and artistically diverse collector and commemorative coins, both denominated in lats and euro, are still available.