How to get a private fire brigade in Joburg without (necessarily) insuring with Discovery

News analysis

  • Johannesburg now has two Discovery-branded fire engines on call.
  • The Discovery Insure Fire Force is operated by Fire Ops SA, adding new vehicles to its private firefighting fleet.
  • You can pay the same company for preferential access to this fleet, or just summon them if you have a fire.
  • But that could get tricky.
  • For more stories, go to

The city of Johannesburg has a long-standing crisis of too few fire engines and has failed for seven years to launch a valid tender process to buy new ones. He now plans to take at least another year to buy more fire trucks. In the meantime, it has a theoretical capacity of lining up 11 trucks to cover the entire metropolitan area, although the reality is a little less on any given day.

So this week, Discovery Insure launched its Fire Force, two fully equipped fire trucks branded blue Discovery, along with “a number” of rapid response vehicles.

This should make the experience of a fire very different for Discovery Insure customers, as opposed to those who rely on the city to put out fires.

In the event of a fire, residents of Joburg are asked not to telephone their local fire station – which on average will not have a fire truck available to dispatch – but to the emergency number 112 by telephone portable, either to the general number 10177, or to the city. from the Johannesburg Emergency Connect center on 011 375 5911.

These numbers all have widely varying response times and service levels.

Discovery Insure customers, on the other hand, can call the private Discovery Emergency Services number, 0860 999 911 – with fast response times.

The city of Johannesburg can send the metro police or request help from neighboring municipalities.

Discovery – which has a vested financial interest in putting out the fires quickly – says it will send “a rapid response vehicle equipped with an ultra high pressure (UHP) pump system, while mobilizing additional resources”.

Its initial response vehicle will be quite effective against small fires, according to Discovery.

How to Get Private Firefighting Without Discovery

Discovery’s Fire Force is operated by Fire Ops SA, a unit of Advanced EMS.

Fire Ops services – and its existing fleet of fire trucks – are directly available to residents of the Greater Johannesburg area. You can pay an annual subscription of R690 to subscribe, if you have a detached house, or R4,500 if you have agricultural land.

The subscription does not cover the cost of an intervention, but offers the promise of “member preference over any other incident (non-paying)”, so that equipment can be diverted from a fire elsewhere.

The real cost of fighting the fire remains the responsibility of the owner; that bill should be turned over to an insurance company as soon as possible, says Fire SA.

There is no guarantee that another insurance company would pay such a bill, or could be forced to do so, while public firefighting services are, in theory, available.

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