Firefighters speak out on shambles

Sister newspaper Daily Dispatch spoke to various firefighters, officials and politicians about the state of fire stations in both King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality and Buffalo City Metro.

  • A Mthatha firefighter said: “We had to use potatoes to smear on the windscreen when (it rains) because wipers of the windscreen are not working.”


  • Another said: “We are exposing ourselves to danger every time we go out and fight fire. The protective clothing we wear is of poor quality. Recently one of us nearly died on fire when the jacket caught fire.”


  • A third Mthatha firefighter said: “There are times we have to enter into a smoke-filled burning house without breathing apparatus. Even if we are trained to deal with fire, it does not mean that we are immune to smoke inhalation dangers. We’ve never had (oxygen masks).”
WHAT PROTECTION? A KSD firefighter shows the poor quality of their protective clothing Picture: LULAMILE FENI
  • A senior BCM fire official said: “This is the same Vincent truck whose left back door has to be fastened using wire, putting lives of the firefighters at risk.”


  • BCM Councillor Sue Bentley said: “In the light of the devastating fires that ravaged Knysna, Nelson Mandela Bay and Kouga last week, the DA in BCM is gravely concerned about the capacity of the Metro (BCM) to fight fires of that magnitude.”


  • BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya: “In fact, we have been part of assistance offered in other areas outside the city like Chintsa in recent times.”
BASIC COMFORT: The control room at the KSD fire department has only cement floor and the chairs of the controller have plastic chairs
  • A fire station call centre agent in BCM said: “We had to prioritise Duncan Village because the fire was spreading to other shacks and people’s lives were at risk. This is not to say the Amalinda fire was not a priority because it could have spread to houses, but what do you do when all other trucks are not available as they were due for repairs?”


  • Bentley added: “BCM fire engines also have no full sets of Jaws of Life, no cutting equipment [chainsaws and angle grinders], no ladders, no fire extinguishers, and no oxygen or fire blankets for burn victims, no resuscitation devices, and most vehicles do not have trauma boards or cervical collars, with very limited medical equipment.”


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