A few years ago I received a call telling me to stop what I was doing and rush home as the building I stayed in was on fire. Apparently a kid who lived two flats down had been playing with the iron or the stove and had forgotten to switch it off. The result? A fire that spread at an alarming speed.

One thing I remember as I made my way home is the fire trucks whizzing past me, heading in the same direction. They looked menacing and heroic at the same time. I thought of how many times I had seen them pass me by before and how I had never spared a thought as to where they were going and if they would save any lives or not.

That kind of mentality is what SABC3’s new show, Centrum Guardians, is trying to wire into our brains. Like the brave firemen who stopped my building from burning to the ground, the people featured on this programme will show us what “a day at the office” means to them.

Each episode is a dramatic recreation of real incidents that saw selected firefighters chosen to be part of the show which is in a competition format. Sixteen semi-finalists were selected for this year’s Centrum Guardian Project. Centrum’s been running this competition for the past five years and it is interesting that SABC3 has taken notice.

“Shooting this series with the people in the emergency services has inspired and humbled me,” said TV personality Ruda Landman who will be the host of the show.

“They are remarkable, passionate, dedicated and trained exceptionally well. The series will make South Africans proud,” she continued.

As soon as the show gets under way, viewers will be able to vote for the firefighting crew they feel has the most passion, skill and the best results. So far 16 teams of firefighters have been selected to have their stories compete against each other in search of one winner. Each semi-finalist or semi-finalist team will receive R2 000. The winner, if an individual, will win R5 000 and if it’s a team the prize is R10 000. The numbers get higher when it comes to base stations (where they operate from). The winning base station will win R55 000.

Voting closes on September 30. Different teams have different SMS lines so to finalise details about your favourite crew visit www.centrumguardian.com

Four semi-finalists will be chosen from that batch to battle it out for the top spot. But enough of who wins what, because honestly there isn’t enough money out there to thank the brave men and women for risking their lives to save others.

• Centrum Guardian starts on Thursday (repeats Fridays at 10am) on SABC3 at 10.10pm.