Thumb­sup for city fire fight­ers

Sunday Tribune - - METRO -

DUR­BAN fire­fight­ers are well-equipped to re­spond to any fire even­tu­al­i­ties.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Enoch Mchunu, the city’s chief fire­fighter, who is sec­onded by the DA’S whip for safety, emer­gency and se­cu­rity, Shar­maine Sew­shanker.

Af­ter last month’s in­ci­dent in Jo­han­nes­burg, where three fire­fight­ers lost their lives while try­ing to con­tain a blaze in the 26-storey Bank of Lis­bon build­ing, the Sun­day Tri­bune vis­ited Dur­ban’s fire and emer­gency ser­vices head­quar­ters, led by Mchunu, to find out how pre­pared his team was.

With more than 500 fighter per­son­nel in 21 fire sta­tions with well-equipped fleets of fire en­gines, Mchunu said they were ready to re­spond swiftly to all cor­ners of the city.

The team deals with about 1 200 fire in­ci­dents ev­ery month.

How­ever, Mchunu said their job wasn’t easy, adding that non-com­pli­ant res­i­dents and busi­nesses posed a se­ri­ous risk.

He hoped that, by ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic, the num­ber of fire in­ci­dents would de­crease. “We of­ten con­duct inspections, es­pe­cially in the high-rise build­ings in the CBD. Our ma­jor con­cern is the safety com­pli­ance in some of the build­ings in the cen­tral part of the city.

“Some of the build­ings were re­designed with­out ad­her­ing to the safety mea­sures. This poses a fire haz­ard,” said Mchunu.

He ap­pealed to all res­i­dents and busi­nesses to en­sure that their prop­er­ties met the safety re­quire­ments.

Some of the build­ings that were de­signed for busi­nesses were now be­ing con­verted to ac­com­mo­date ten­ants.

“The ma­te­rial they used to sub­di­vide the rooms is not ap­proved and highly flammable. We are work­ing with law en­force­ment agen­cies where we feel that the owner needs to com­ply to re­duce the fire in­ci­dents,” said Mchunu.

He said the de­part­ment was welle­quipped in terms of skills and equip­ment. All fire­fight­ers trained reg­u­larly at their col­lege, lo­cated in Illovo, to en­sure that they were equal to the task at all times. He ad­vised res­i­dents to con­tact the fire de­part­ment di­rectly and im­me­di­ately on 031 361 0000 when­ever they found them­selves in dan­ger and not try to ex­tin­guish a fire them­selves.

Sew­shanker lauded the fire de­part­ment, say­ing it was one of the best-per­form­ing units in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“We are cer­tainly sat­is­fied with the state of our fire de­part­ment.

“Dur­ing com­mit­tee meet­ings, they pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive re­ports and give an up­date on all is­sues that need in­ter­ven­tion.

“De­spite mi­nor chal­lenges that are com­mon to other de­part­ments, we are con­fi­dent that res­i­dents are safe and can rely on our fire de­part­ment,” said Sew­shanker.

Deputy mayor Fawzia Peer, who also chairs the emer­gency com­mit­tee, said the fire de­part­ment pro­vided es­sen­tial ser­vices and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity al­ways en­sured that res­i­dents were safe by pro­vid­ing sup­port to the unit.

“We have ded­i­cated staff who are well­trained,” said Peer.


EPHRAIM Ng­cobo and Kuhle Ngubane, trained fire­fight­ers at the ethek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity fire and emer­gency ser­vices, do their bit to help com­bat any fires that are re­ported in the city.|

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