Firefighters go to local early markets to buy dong leaves, mung beans, meat and glutinous rice to prepare the chung cakes (square sticky rice cake) – a traditional and indispensable Vietnamese dish during Tet.

Hands that are used to working with fire hoses now turn to making the nation’s traditional rice cake to welcome Tet.

The ingredients are carefully selected by firefighters to make the most beautiful and delicious chung cakes.

A young fire police officer learns how to pack chung cake for the first time from his senior colleague.

Lieutenant Colonel Khuc Nguyen Khanh, the team’s deputy head, said: “Every Tet comes, to ensure absolute safety for the people and to help them feel secure in welcoming the Lunar New Year, my unit’s staff are on duty at 100% capacity, thus no one among us can go home to enjoy Tet. Therefore, chung cake making like this is an opportunity for us to encourage each other as we have to leave our families during Tet.”

Amid the complicated developments of the COVID-19 epidemic, all members of the unit are always reminded to comply with the epidemic prevention regulations, wearing face masks, regularly cleaning and washing their hands, Lieutenant Colonel Khanh added.

The rustic chung cakes using teamwork and friendship warm up the firefighters’ hearts during their Tet away from home.

This year around 90 cakes have been made, both for officers to celebrate Tet and to send as gifts to their families.

A cylindrical pot is prepared to boil the cakes.

After wrapping, chung cakes are arranged in the pot for boiling.

For every Vietnamese, upon seeing the boiling cauldron of chung cakes, it seems the taste of Tet is near.

Firefighters on their night shift watching the boiling of chung cakes. It takes time to boil the cakes, sometimes up to 16 hours.