HANGZHOU, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Since retiring 14 years ago, Lyu Dixin, a villager from east China's Zhejiang Province, visited more than 4,000 villages and towns by bicycle, promoting fire safety education.
During the last three years of his life, he raised 1.25 million yuan (200,000 U.S. dollars) to build a fire safety education center.
He always said his final "job" was a fire safety educator and he worked tirelessly until he passed away in March this year, at the age of 78.
Twenty-six years ago, Lyu witnessed a raging fire engulf a paper mill when he was visiting a neighboring city. An old man died while trying to save his belongings. It was then that Lyu had made up his mind to educate people on fire safety.
"Every person who learns about fire safety means one more chance of safety," he once said.
When Lyu retired he went to the local fire brigade and brought home a full basket of brochures. He told his wife, Zhang Jiaoyue, that he wanted to ride a bike around the country and educate people on fire safety.
"He had never asked me for anything during his life. So when he asked for this, I knew it was sincere," she said.
From that day on, Lyu's days at home were few. Zhang said her husband spent no more than two months of each year at home.
On the road, he maintained a very low living standard, eating fried sweet potatoes prepared by his wife and staying in cheapest accommodation, so that he could spend more on printing brochures.
Over the years, he visited more than 5,000 companies and public institutions, as well as 716 schools. Using the teaching materials he compiled, he sometimes taught in auditoriums filled with hundreds of people, other times in open farmland with just a dozen people around him.
In 2015, he had a new idea: a museum that could educate the public when he was no longer able to ride.
Lyu tore down his family's factory and used his life savings to build a three-story museum to replace it. The first floor houses exhibits of fire prevention equipment and information boards about fire safety. The second floor has exhibits about Lyu's road trips and teaching materials. The third floor has a classroom for lectures of up to 60 people.
Lou Mengdi, headmaster of a local primary school, recalled how Lyu made a two-hour tour of the museum entertaining and informative for her students.
"He used simple but vivid words to teach children how to protect themselves in a fire," Lou said.
Lyu gave 20 lectures before he became too ill. Lectures had been scheduled until April this year. His son said the whole family would carry on his work and finish those scheduled lectures.
Before he passed away, Lyu called his granddaughter to his bedside and gave her a notebook that he had been carrying for years. In the book were his carefully written fire safety teaching points.
"My grandfather devoted his life to this and I feel obliged to continue his work," she said.