The City of Johannesburg on Monday honoured Emergency Management Services (EMS) firefighters, including the three who died while trying to put out a fire at the 22-storey Lisbon Bank building in September last year. PHOTO: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The City of Johannesburg on Monday honoured Emergency Management Services(EMS) firefighters, including the three members who died while trying to put out a fire at the 22-storey Lisbon Bank building in September.

The EMS Bravery Awards were given to the firefighters at the Florida Fire Station in Roodepoort. The three firefighters who died - Khathutshelo Muedi, Mduduzi Ndlovu, and Simphiwe Moropana - were represented by their families. 

Moropana's mother, however, told the African News Agency (ANA) after the ceremony that her son's family had been neglected since his death.

"Things are tough. Simphiwe was the one who providing everything for us. No one has come to give us any help since he died. We are suffering...we haven't got anything."

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said at the ceremony: "Whilst we had conveyed our condolences previously, we would like to take this opportunity to again send our heartfelt condolences to the families and the broader EMS family."

"At the time of the incident, allegations of equipment shortage and unavailability of required resources to conduct active firefighting emerged in the media space. This prompted the City to launch a series of parallel investigations to have clarity of what happened during the Bank of Lisbon fire incident," said Mashaba, who was accompanied by Public Safety MMC Michael Sun and EMS acting fire chief Arthur Mqwa.

"EMS services over 30 000 fire, search and rescue, and medical calls a month. For us to efficiently and diligently deal with each and every call, all safety protocols should be observed and that includes making sure that our staff are safe."

The mayor said the City of Joburg has instituted both internal and external investigations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHASA), by EMS' forensic fire investigation unit and external investigations by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) and the Department of Labour on the matter. 

"Both internal and external investigations are still underway and the department will await the conclusions of the report with recommendations," said Mashaba.

"The City of Joburg reassures the residents of the city that EMS management is committed to provide effective emergency services on a day to day basis without any disruptions."

African News Agency (ANA)