Легендарный пожарный СССР и России,
Герой Чернобыля, Герой Российской Федерации
генерал-майор внутренней службы Владимир Михайлович Максимчук

During entire history of the fire protection of USSR and Russia, which exits into the depths of the centuries,
there were numerousprinces and tsars, who placed the problem of fight with the fiery element
in the number of most important state tasks. In different sources with the assurance they
call the same of Great prince Ivan III, tsars Ivan Grozny, Aleksey Mikhaylovich, Peter I,
Aleksandr I, Nikolai I, then the graph of Aleksandr Sheremetev, prince Aleksandr Lvov et al.
From that boundary, which separated the fire protection of tsarist Russia the beginning
of the 20th century from the Soviet period and up to the fire–rescue service of the present
days of 21th century, were designated not too many those, who made the influential contribution
to development of the fire–prevention matter of Russia. The Major General of internal service
Vladimir Maksimchuk – that personality itself, the place for which –
on one line with the great statesmen of the past…
This site is dedicated to his life and exploits.



(June 8, 1947 – May 22, 1994)

Vladimir Mikhailovich Maksimchuk, Major–General of the Internal Service is known not only among firemen and rescuers. He is called the Hero of the USSR and Russia, the Hero of Chernobyl; and among the international community of firefighters he is called “the Hero of the Whole World” and a true patriot of Russia.

Vladimir Maksimchuk was posthumously conferred the rank of the Hero of Russia by the President of the Russian Federation Decree No. 1493 of December 18, 2003.

The fire at the Chernobyl atomic power station, which took place on the night of May 22–23, 1986, became the highest point of his service; it was then that he did his best as a professional, a leader, and a man. He personally took part in the reconnaissance, then he directed the fire extinguishing action; he managed both to stop the fire and save the people. As a matter of fact was, the regulations of the Main Directorate for Fire Guards contained no guidelines for operational subdivisions when extinguishing fires at atomic facilities. And that was the main reason for losing 28 people during the fire at the Chernobyl atomic power station on April 26, 1986. Vladimir Maksimchuk took the right tactics of fire extinguishing under the heightened danger conditions – by small groups (5 people in each), with a limited stay in the hazardous zone (not more than 10 minutes), trying to lessen as possible the radiation exposure. Thus, by heroism Vladimir Maksimchuk prevented the development of the catastrophe, saved the lives and health of millions of people – a unique example among other officials, who were at the same place and time. The proposed tactics for fire extinguishing at atomic facilities were unprecedented and have become a valuable contribution to the international development of the fire science. But Vladimir Maksimchuk saved the people and station at the cost of his life. The consequences of that fire soon showed up and were aggravated in the following, due to his personal participation in liquidating other emergency situations and catastrophes in the country.

Yes, in spite of the cruel sentence of Chernobyl, Vladimir Maksimchuk continued to work assiduously, he performed important undertakings, accomplished his goals, and often risked his life in the same way as before. He paid little attention to his health, had rest in snatches and was spending himself extremely fast, one might say even without pity; he has not stepped aloof and has not kept to himself the knowledge which could be useful to other people. He could not behave in any other way!

Vladimir Maksimchuk went down in history of fire fighting as a devoted, highly skilled and altruistic firefighter, one of the most prominent and respected figures in fire protection in USSR and Russia; a highly qualified specialist in the suppression of large scale and complex fires; a talented organizer of practical firefighting; a bold innovator and an apologist of advanced methods in his field; tireless teacher for the young generation of firemen; the one who arranged and inspired victories in practical firefighting competitions and who introduced substantial changes in this sport; one of founders and developers of federal bill “About fire safety”; the initiator of creating a domestic service of emergency suppression consisting of departments carrying out primary works during emergencies (a prototype of the present EMERCOM); a manager who undertook important measures for strengthening the Moscow fire safety at the end of the 20th century.

The museum of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, the Propaganda Center of the Main Department of the EMERCOM of Russia in the city of Moscow, as well as the National Museum «Chernobyl» in Kiev, hold expositions devoted to Vladimir Maksimchuk; a fireboat in Moscow and a school in his native village Gizovshchina in Liubarsky district of Zhitomir region are named after him. General Maksimchuk Cup international competitions in practical firefighting are held annually in Russia. There was established a Maksimchuk scholarship for outstanding success in studies and science for the students of the Academy of the State Fire Prevention Service at the EMERCOM of Russia. The 2nd specialized fire station of the Federal Fire Prevention Service in Moscow at the Main Department of the EMERCOM of Russia and Government budget educational institution of secondary vocational education of Moscow Technical College Fire and Rescue № 57 were awarded the name of Vladimir Maksimchuk. It also has a museum exposition devoted to General Vladimir Maksimchuk. There is a stand devoted to the Hero of Russia Vladimir Maksimchuk in the Museum of the Heroes of the Soviet Union, Russia and Holders of the Order of Glory in Moscow.  

I. The book of Ludmila Maksimchuk “OUR GENERAL”

(2007, Moscow, “News”, 768 p., illustration, print run 1000 copy)

From a series «NOT ALL BURNS DOWN…»

Sketch about a life and activity The Major General of the Interior, 
The Hero of the Russian Federation Vladimir Maksimchuk


“Our General” (a portrait story) 
“Chronicle – forty seven” (a poem)
“Personal correspondence”
“Working memoirs”

Introduktion to the book “Our General”

The materials of this book are dedicated to the memory of my beloved husband Maksimchuk Vladimir Mikhailovich, the Major General of the Interior who devoted his life to the fire service of his country. He died of a serious disease diagnosed Chernobyl. The fire originated on May 23, 1986 in the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power station had become the onset thereof. The book is based on various information sources, documents, and private correspondence. In May 1990 I wrote a poem “Not all is burnt up in the flame of history”, which emerged from long and painful contemplation concerning man s deeds of every description, his exploits and sacrifices as well as the sense of existence of the whole mankind and mine in particular. Since that time when my husband left for Chernobyl in May 1986 and later, when he has being seriously ill for a long time, my mind has been preoccupied with one and the same thought – Why did he do this? What was the sacrifice made for? Everything turns to ashes and the information in the cosmic data bank will never be open to ordinary human beings. All over the world the occupation of a fire fighter leads the list of humane occupations. The community cannot obviate the need for a fire fighter in case of emergency. My husband responded to severe fires and accidents of many kinds. These were to include the fire of the Moscow hotel Russia, the earthquakes in Spitak and Leninakan, the damage of the Ural Western Siberia oil product pipeline, the accident in the Ionava mineral fertilizers plant in Lithuania, the fires of the Ostankino TV center and the Russian White house in autumn 1993, etc. This just starts the list of various and complicated situations occurring in near and remote regions of the country where experience and knowledge of my husband were much wanted. The Chernobyl fire on May, 23 1986 was the central reference point, the measure of conscience and honor, professional skill and responsibility for the decision made. Of course, Vladimir Mikhailovich Maksimchuk took an active part in its liquidation. He simply could not stand aside. But what happened with the Chernobyl fire fighters thereafter? For many of them the succeeding years were the time of incurable diseases, humiliation and lack of social protection. Up to now an adequate information concerning that horrible disaster is not widely available. My husband was in charge of the Moscow Fire Directorate for the last two years of his life. In a short time he has managed to radically reconstruct the fire service and make Moscow and its citizens maximally protected against fire.

However, this was not only the fire against which Vladimir Mikhailovich fought. Up to the last moment he tried to control a dreadful disease and not to give it the upper hand. He did not want to listen to the mourning melody.

My husband is gone but people remember and respect him. They say that he saved half of Europe and call him “Our General”.

* * *

P.S. December, 18, 2003, the President of Russian Federation signed the Edict № 1493 awarding Maksimchuk Vladimir Mikhailovich, the Major General of the Interior, as Hero of Russia. Awarding is posthumous, 9,5 later after his death.

Ludmila Maksimchuk, The Member of the Russian union of the writers,
Moscow writer’s organization

II.The book of Ludmila Maksimchuk


(2004, Moscow, “SPECIALEQUIPMENT”, 640 p., illustration, print run 1000 copy)

From a series «NOT ALL BURNS DOWN…»



In prose and verses with author's illustrations

Introduktion to the book "The Chernobyl Dictionary of Mankind"

The central moment of a narration – a fire on May, 22/23nd, 1986 at Chernobyl nuclear station. It is accompanied by the description of details and data on the accident and its consequences. All accident occurs on a background of historical events of the world, its disasters and wars, its remote past and the unsuccessful present. The dictionary form has appeared convenient for a statement of the various facts, sights, philosophical reflections, art examples, poems, documentary acknowledgement. Little-known materials are published also. The book is issued by author's illustrations. The book is turned to those to whom are not indifferent destiny of other people and tomorrow of mankind.

A kind of Preface for a reader of "The Chernobyl Dictionary of Mankind"

I would like to explain my decision to write this book. It began growing as if by itself, out of fear when I realized that even my own soul wants to forget the heroes of Chernobyl, to lay them aside, as events of history, as something more or less feasible and even ordinary since it actually occurred in real life. It could be a great mistake. Chernobyl is not a happening — the complex and unhappy coincidence of simple enough events . It is the sign, the Warning, even the Omen. No less than modern Sodom, and as such it must be known in every human language all over 2 the world, if humanity has any chance to be sure in future. Therefore I decided to do what I can in order to keep our memory running, to prolong the feeling not exactly of guilt but of both universal and personal responsibility for letting it be, even though most of us lived too far away or were too young at that time. Into my life Chernobyl has come rushing early in the night of 26-27 of April, 1986, with a sudden phone call. Still quite sleepy, I heard my husband repeating this word several times. I did not know this word at all to say nothing of its dreadful meaning and of the fateful role it was going to play in my whole life. My husband, Vladimir Mikhailovich Maksimchuk, a major-general of inner forces, namely of firemen service, has died on the 22 of May, 1994, with the incurable diagnosis that sounded and like a sentence: Chernobyl. He took an active part in emergency and rescue operations on the ruins of the atomic power station and especially was in charge of fighting with fire in the 4-th power unit of the station in the night of 22-23 of May, 1986. Later all consequences of those events wouldn't wait longer to affect and intensify in his future life, including his personal participation in other hot situations all over the country.

* * *

And one more thing. Chernobyl is not only an isolated case that broke out into a global planet catastrophe. Chernobyl is a result and a measure of people's attitude to the world, life and to each other. People have been living on Earth for a long time, and living not quite righteously and not always in a right way. During long millenniums they were creating a black dictionary by their deeds and intentions. And they didn't want to create another one — were not able to, and didn't deserve… Almost every word of this dictionary is the crux of the human matter or retribution for the same kind or similar matter… The secret fire in Chernobyl is an action and a punishment at the same time, and also this is a call for repentance and clearing of our souls…

I devote "The Chernobyl Dictionary of Mankind" to everybody who has lost their nearest and dearest people in global catastrophes, and also to all the others who are in the lists of alive.

Ludmila Maksimchuk, The Member of the Russian union of the writers,
Moscow writer’s organization