Ekurhuleni comments on fire department’s incompetence claims


TWO weeks ago the RECORD reported on an Alberton home which was destroyed in a fire where residents claimed that the trucks had no water.

This was one of the several fires in Alberton and light was shed on alleged incompetence by the staff of the fire department. William Ntladi, Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS) district manager media liaison responded by saying: “We wish to register our utmost sympathy to the family for the loss of their property due to fire.

“The department wishes the family concerned a speedy recovery in the ordeal that drastically impeded their psychological and emotional experience that clouded them due to the fire incident.

Swift response

“Emergency Services` firefighters received a well alight structural fire call on the day and swiftly responded to the address as mentioned. Per records from the call centre, the call was received exactly at 4.40am. The first responding fire crews responded to the scene two minutes after receiving the call via the call dispatching centre.

“Exactly nine minutes after leaving the station, the first pump dispatched reported on scene. As per operational procedures, district turnout had to be initiated of which backup from other surrounding fire stations had to be dispatched as well. Per criterion, fire engines pumps should be backed up by strategically placed water tankers from the same operational district, hence the arrival time on scene wasn’t simultaneous.

From the arrival of the first fire engines on the scene, there wasn’t any further fire damage to the structure.

The department would like to state that the response to the scene was in accordance with the international code of practice and standard operating procedures as per National Fire Protection Association 1041and 1001 for firefighters.

Always full

Fire engines are always filled with water immediately after all operations where water was used either on the scene or at a nearby fire hydrant or even in the fire station. During shift changes, the oncoming shift thoroughly checks and tops up as required after handing over.

In this incident, the first two trucks operated from the nearest fire hydrant as well for sustainable water supply. What is being said to be a hydrant near the burnt house, is a water valve which is not conducive for fire hose connections.

The major pump fire engines can be emptied in less than five minutes depending on the number of attack lines used and the diameter as well.

Members of the public are encouraged to use Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services’ direct call Centre contact numbers when experiencing and requiring emergency services` interventions. Direct contacts will enable the department to respond promptly and arrive on time at the required scene.”

These numbers are 011 458 0911 (normal rates charged), 10177 (toll-free from a land line) or 112 (free from your cell phone).

No answer

According to Shannon Bird’s Facebook post, she called the fire department where there was no answer and then she tried the police. “After trying to spell Walnut Street to the asleep lady on the other line, while my neighbours’ house burned down, I hung up and called Fox security who was very helpful and was here in minutes,” she recalls.

A former fire fighter who would like to remain anonymous says he feels that the firemen are not properly trained and don’t seem to have even rudimentary knowledge or skills to be able to do the job properly.

“I’ve seen them in ‘action’ and it is actually shocking. Thus far they have been fortunate there have not been fatalities in all these incidents recently, but it will happen sooner or later if they don’t start pulling up their socks,” says the man.

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David Pienaar

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