Durban — EThekwini Municipality’s firefighters echoed with one voice that determination, drive and the satisfaction they get when saving people’s lives are what motivates them to showcase their heroism, bravery and sacrifice.
To celebrate International Firefighters Day on Thursday, teams from the metro’s four regions – north, central, west and south – competed against each other in Durban, showcasing their skills in basic firefighting activities and routines, such as hose running.
Chief fire officer Phakade Mchunu said the dedicated firefighters play a vital role in the community, and resolved to put their lives on the line to save the lives of others. The day also honoured and commemorated those who had lost their lives on duty.
It was promulgated in 1999, as a result of the fighters who perished while fighting raging wildfires in Australia.
Mchunu said the day helped to maintain the spirits of the firefighters, and motivated them to keep moving forward.
“This work is very difficult, hence the firefighters are valued for their bravery in saving the lives of those in need. We are motivated by saving lives and property.
“Days like these are used to bring together all the fighters, to show them that they are appreciated for the sacrifices they make in saving others,” Mchunu said.
“We ensure that we create a working environment that is conducive for them to stay motivated and focused on their call of duty, so they are always spirited and eager to go on fighting.”
He said that by giving them such activities, it sharpened their skills and kept them driven in their resolve to make a difference in people’s lives.
Mchunu appealed to members of the public to get closer to their local fire stations, take ownership, support the firefighters, and protect them. The lines of communication between the firefighters and the public must be always be kept open, Mchunu said.
He also asked that young people be made aware of the opportunities that existed in the firefighting sphere, and that they always try to keep fit so that if they get opportunities in this field, it would be easy for them to get hired.
“The youth must keep themselves informed. They must avail themselves for any opportunity that may arise, instead of expecting it to fall in their laps,” Mchunu advised.
Training officer Confidence Gumede said her daily activities involved training new firefighting recruits – internal and external staff.
“We also train company employees who require firefighting skills, ordinary members of the public whom we train about the dangers of fire, and how to deal with such challenges if they encounter them,” she said.
“We also advise them about the dangers of smoke inhalation, that smoke is more dangerous because after inhalation, one may collapse and then die in a fire. We are excited about this very important day to us firefighters, that we are also recognised.”
Leading firefighter Vusumuzi Mbongwa said this day invigorated him. He was happy to be involved in the job of saving other people’s lives.
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