Thumbsup for city fire fighters
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.|