Firefighter, Ronel January awaits her next call out to serve the people of Cape Town. With the fire season slowly approaching firefighters are concerned and wary about the incoming flux of not only emergency calls but attacks and harassment in the local communities they serve. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Firefighter, Ronel January awaits her next call out to serve the people of Cape Town. With the fire season slowly approaching firefighters are concerned and wary about the incoming flux of not only emergency calls but attacks and harassment in the local communities they serve. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Attacks on Cape firefighters impacts ability to deliver effective service

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Apr 8, 2021

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Cape Town - The City’s Fire and Rescue Services has spoken out over the spate of violent, and verbal attacks on its staff that is impacting its ability to provide an effective service.

Spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said the department wants to set the record straight and let it be known that they are not the enemy.

Carelse said while the department had not spoken out over the attacks other than condemning them as they occur, it wanted to set the record straight on why its staff sometimes have to leave scenes of incidents.

“Attacks on our staff are not something new. However, over the years, criminals have become bolder and often taken advantage of incidents where firefighters are dispatched to assist genuine residents.

“On several occasions, our officers have been robbed at gunpoint, assaulted during emergencies, and their equipment damaged and stolen.

“What the public might not know is the negative impact these attacks have on our firefighters. A good amount of them have had to attend trauma counselling over time due to these attacks, and yet, they come back to work and continue to serve local communities.

“For us, the communities we serve are important, and we would never think to stop the work we do, that is why we are urging the public to report these criminal activities and weed out criminals,” said Carelse.

Brackenfell platoon commander Granville Mathias, who survived an attack and robbery in Wallacedene, recounted the incident to the Cape Argus, sharing how he was ambushed while attempting to locate a burning structure and struck in the face with the butt of a firearm.

“It happened last year, in November. I can still recall the details, and while talking about it helps me heal, the incident was traumatic, for both me and my partner.

“However, since it happened, we have received assistance and support from a Brigadier at the Kraaifontein police station. She pledged to always escort us when we are dispatched into the community, and it has been a great help.

I think that’s more of what we need, people to come on board and work with us to ensure not only our safety but theirs as well,” said Mathias.

Cape Argus

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