International Firefighter’s Day
International Firefighter’s Day is celebrated annually on 4 May, and is honour of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, but also those who have dedicated their time in the field.
The Western Cape has 1 650 professional fire fighters and approximately 450 volunteers who serve at 96 fire stations in the province.
The Western Cape’s Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, Anton Bredell, recently visited the Cape Town Central Fire Station to thank all firefighters for the important work they do to keep our communities safe.
“The 4th of May is International Firefighters’ Day, and it is an opportunity for society to show our appreciation to these essential frontline men and women.”
“We had a busy fire season this past summer, which included the Parliament fire in Cape Town and extensive wildfires in Kleinmond and the Cape Winelands. More recently, firefighters were part of the various teams from the Western Cape that went to support rescue operations after the devastating floods in KZN. All these operations were characterized by excellent teamwork between different firefighting units and brave and dedicated firefighters who put their own lives on the line so the rest of us can be safe,’’ added Bredell.
The City of Cape Town says its Fire & Rescue Service Department responded to 8 202 vegetation fires between November 2021 and April 2022.
This is in addition to the myriads of emergency calls the Fire & Rescue Service responds to throughout the year - 22 632 to be exact, between 1 May 2021 and 28 April 2022. According to stats from the City, 3 709 were motor vehicle accidents, and 569 incidents of assault and many medical emergencies.
The City recruited 40 seasonal firefighters for the summer season in the past six months, to assist with combatting wildfires.
‘’Our firefighters not only endure long hours in unbearable heat, but they provide an indispensable service crucial to the safety and security of all our residents. Seasonal firefighters are a valuable resource and work alongside our permanent staff, who are also commended for their leadership and continued dedication,’’ said Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith.
The City’s Fire & Rescue Service boasts 64 fire engines, 29 water tankers, 26 skid units, 17 rescue and 13 aerial vehicles.
‘’Our firefighters risk their lives to save others and we ensure equipment will not only assist in the performance of their duties, but also their protection,’’ added Smith.
The Western Cape Government invested R15million in aerial and specialized ground support during the summer, and this contributed to the Province’s track record of managing 90% of fires within the first hour of being reported.
Bredell said the Province has, through the Disaster Management Centre, over a period of ten years, developed a standardised Incident Command System, which means that any firefighting unit knows exactly what is expected of them in any given emergency.
‘’There is a clear chain of command and decisive actions can be taken quickly. The system requires all critical role-players to be involved, including landowners, through their respective Fire Protection Associations,’’ said Bredell.
Smith, meanwhile, has condemned the attack on firefighters.
‘’I want to remind residents that these men and women put their lives on the line selflessly and they are there to save the very lives of people who attack them and their equipment.’’
‘’It is unacceptable that during the course of their duties their hoses are sabotaged, vehicles are damaged and they are robbed of City and personal possessions,’’ he added.
Bredell said with the winter season fast approaching, the risk of fire changes from wildfires to domestic fires caused by open fires and paraffin heating systems.
“We have installed more than 12 000 smoke alarms in informal dwellings and do targeted awareness campaigns to highlight the dangers associated with domestic fires in high-risk neighborhoods.”
Bredell urged residents to be cautious and know the risks of fires, especially with load shedding
‘’Possible load shedding adds to the risks for this coming winter, and people should pay extra care when using gas heating or candles during load shedding. “It is a good investment to have a smoke alarm installed in your house as an early warning devise. It can save your life,” Bredell said.
The metro’s fire stations will have an open day on Wednesday, to give residents an opportunity to learn more about the services and the work that they do to protect them.
The fire stations which will be open to the public from 11:00 to 18:00 are: Atlantis, Belhar, Bellville, Epping, Goodwood, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Kommetjie Road, Kuilsriver, Lakeside, Milnerton, Mitchells Plain, Ottery, Roeland Street, Salt River, Sir Lowry’s, Strand and Wynberg.
Done By: Mitchum George