Home News NC municipality denies ‘neglecting’ fire dept

NC municipality denies ‘neglecting’ fire dept

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There have been complaints and concerns have been raised. Municipal spokesperson Patrick Williams has, however, dismissed most of the allegations.

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THE DAWID Kruiper Local Municipality in Upington has admitted that its capacity, including that of its fire department, has never been adjusted and improved following the amalgamation of the former //Khara Hais and Mier local municipalities.

This is after the municipality was accused of neglecting its fire department, which is allegedly not up to standard and delivers poor services to the community.

There have been complaints and concerns have been raised that the municipality has only one fully-fledged fire truck to cater for the largest municipal area in the Northern Cape.

It is also alleged that the firefighters do not have sufficient protective gear and that the municipality depends on Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) services when there is a fire because its truck only has a capacity of 3 500 litres of water.

Municipal spokesperson Patrick Williams has, however, dismissed most of the allegations.

He admitted that while financial constraints have prevented the municipality from making the required adjustments since the amalgamation, it has managed to maintain services.

“It is expensive to run a fully-fledged fire service. The cost of one fully-fledged fire truck is R4.5 million. The cost of the full gear or uniform for a fire officer is R26 248,” said Williams.

He indicated that the municipal fire service has two major pumps, which are checked on a daily basis when the shifts change.

He indicated that the municipal fire service has two fully-equipped fire engines, which are inspected every shift on a daily basis, under the supervision of the shift supervisor.

“The one major pump has gone for its recommended service in Joburg, because it is a specialised vehicle that is supposed to be sent for servicing to the service provider that built it,” said Williams. “The other one is operational.”

Williams explained that the first responder at a fire is the major pump (fire engine). “Depending on the nature of the fire, it is then followed by the water tankers, which serve as additional support to the fire engine.”

Williams elaborated that the municipal fire department has two water tankers.

The one has a capacity of 7 500 litres of water, while the other, which was sponsored by the National Disaster Management Centre, has a capacity of 6 000 litres of water.

“This means that we have two water tankers that are committed to the municipal fire services, while a third tanker is used for delivering other municipal services.

“The nature of the fire will determine whether the third water tanker should be used for fire services.”

Williams said that the fire engine with a 3 500-litre capacity is fully equipped and has its own Jaws of Life.

“The Jaws of Life are fitted on the rescue vehicle and they are in a working condition.”

Williams said further that the municipality issues its fire staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) and that they are in the process of procuring PPEs, through a formal tender process, for the new recruits.

“It is not true that firefighters respond to fires wearing normal overalls and T-shirts,” he said.

“If the newspaper or any member of the public has any information which proves that firefighters do not wear proper gear, they should provide that information so that the municipality can act against such individuals,” he added.

Williams said that there was a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Dawid Kruiper Municipality and Acsa for the provision of assistance to the local authority.

“The MOU is renewed on an annual basis to provide additional services when the need arises. The Dawid Kruiper Municipality also provides assistance to Acsa by means of manpower, equipment and joint ventures in relation to public awareness events.”

He said that the respective shift supervisors act as safety officers and are responsible for the safety of the personnel.

“The supervisor is responsible for checking that they are fully equipped, that the fire personnel are ready for duty, that the fire trucks and equipment are operational, and that any defects in uniform and equipment are repaired or replaced when needed.

“The supervisor also acts as the safety officer at a fire incident by checking the general safety of the firefighters and equipment upon arrival at the incident and monitoring the safety of bystanders and affected person/s on the property.

“If there is a need, he/she can rope in the assistance of other specialists who can contribute in extinguishing a fire.”