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Fifteen female firefighters graduate

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“It is our commitment to contribute towards closing the gap created by the high unemployment rate in communities surrounding our airports.”

DRILL: The graduates doing the Squad Drill. Picture: Supplied

THE KIMBERLEY Airport will receive six of the 15 female graduates of the Firefighters Skills Development Programme.

The graduation ceremony was held yesterday at the Upington International Airport.

The programme was launched in November 2018 to train women in the critical skill of firefighting.

The graduates received an internationally accredited National Fire Protection Association 1001 certificate endorsed by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) and the South African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI).

The qualification will make the candidates employable with any firefighting organisation, internationally. In addition to the qualification, they also received a code 10 driving licence to be able to operate firefighting trucks.

The programme, fully funded by Airports Company South Africa as part of the company’s socio-economic development (SED) programme, aims to provide scarce skills to young females in the Upington area.

The programme included theory classes and practical activities in rescue and extraction; hazardous material awareness; breathing apparatus training as well as first aid.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Upington International Airport regional airport manager Nongo Dibete said: “We started this programme after realising the challenge with recruiting skilled female fighters in the Upington area.

“It is our commitment to contribute towards closing the gap created by the high unemployment rate in communities surrounding our airports.”

In addition, Rural Metro Emergency Management Services will appoint one candidate as a trainee firefighter instructor. The remaining candidates will be allocated to firefighting services organisation they are contracted to in the Northern Cape and surrounding provinces.

Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Georden Olyn thanked Airports Company South Africa for giving them a life-time opportunity to help change their financial standing in their families.

Olyn added that with their qualification, they are excited to go out into the world and save lives.

Airports Company South Africa’s SED focus areas are education, environmental sustainability, youth and women empowerment as well as the support for the disability sector. The Firefighters Skills Development Programme is targeted at addressing the skills shortage among youth in the country.