There is a delay in filling female firefighters posts as well as the the slow process of procurement of protective gear for fire personnel. Picture: Independent Media
DURBAN - The pressure to satisfy employment equity requirements was delaying the process of filling 141 funded vacancies in eThekwini Municipality’s fire department.

Adding to that was the difficulty in finding women ready to join the department.

Dr Musa Gumede, eThekwini’s deputy city manager for community and emergency services, told the security and emergency services portfolio committee on Thursday that the delay in the appointments was caused by the executive committee’s decision for the cluster to strive to recruit women.

“We have superintendent positions and the process took about a year to capacitate them so that they are ready for the appointments.

“We have gone out four times and we could not find anyone who was ready for the task, but all is on track now,” Gumede said.

The slow process of procuring protective gear for fire personnel was also questioned.

Gumede said they had an interim solution to procure fire equipment and protective clothing while finding a supplier that would meet the Department of Trade and Industry’s (dti) requirements.

Enoch Mchunu, eThekwini fire chief, said the requirements had led to the equipment being sourced from the US.

“We need a South African-based, SABS-approved manufacturer and service provider to provide us with gear and equipment that meet the dti standard, otherwise we would find ourselves in trouble with the labour department,” Mchunu said.

The DA acknowledged the work done by firefighters during the three-day warehouse fire in Clairwood last month.

DA committee member Chris van den Berg said: “The procurement of the protective gear should be prioritised as the firemen risk being harmed with gear of poor standard.”

Sharon Hoosen, committee and Exco member, took offence to attributing the delays in making appointments to the lack of women candidates ready for the task.

“I am appalled by the manner in which Dr Musa Gumede has provided the explanation for the non-fulfilment of their mandate. He portrayed women in a poor and condescending manner, as if women were not competent enough to do the job.

“The entire reasoning given about delays in filling the vacant posts was directed at women in general who needed to be trained much more than men; therefore more time was requested to bring women in line with the standard required,” Hoosen said.

Daily News