Fire Ops SA fills the void in firefighting

Some Johannesburg residents are forced to rely on a private firefighting organization, Fire Ops SA, to help them in an emergency because the city’s fire stations are under-equipped.

Robert Muladuzi, spokesman for the emergency services, said: “Across the city there is a shortage of fire trucks to respond to emergencies as there are only 11 large fire trucks on duty for the moment.”

Andries Mucavele, operations manager for the city’s emergency services, said several of Johannesburg’s 30 fire stations did not have a first-response fire engine.

There were currently only 18 vehicles equipped to deal with the fires, including the small Skid trucks (a vehicle to put out small veld or refuse fires), but plans were in place to replenish the much-needed assets that were doing part of the emergency services.

Mucavele said: “An operational meeting was held two weeks ago at the highest level of the emergency services to add 13 large fire engines of various modes and sizes to the fleet. They also provide two tank trucks, a hydraulic platform truck and a ladder. »

It expected delivery of this equipment in early 2023. A further R200 million had been allocated for next year to purchase another 15 fire engines.

During her Budget 2022 speech on May 25, MMC Julie Suddaby revealed that capital expenditure of R200 million had been budgeted to acquire firefighting equipment, which was to be operational by June 2023 at the latest .

Wynand Engelbrecht, fire chief of Fire Ops SA, said they were “looking after saving property and lives when incidents involving fires occur”.

He added that they have 20 vehicles in their fleet and 60 full-time firefighters responding to emergencies from their centers across the city. The bills for the services rendered were paid by the parties involved, be they owners or businesses.

Engelbrecht said Fire Ops SA is usually the first to arrive on a fire, as was the case recently when a thatched lapa caught fire next to a house in Bloubosrand, Randburg.

“By the time the firefighters arrived in a Skid, the fire was out and the house was intact. Did they [Fire Ops] not been there so quickly, the situation could have been very different.

Engelbrecht concluded that Fire Ops and firefighters sometimes worked together when there was a large fire, and they were happy to collaborate when needed, as they were both working to help the community.

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