Do you have what it takes to become a firefighter?

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Nov 27, 2020

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Cape Town - Great courage, bravery and sacrifice are just some of the traits needed to become a firefighter.

New candidates need to pass a rigorous assessment when applying for a job.

“When‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌recruited,‌ firefighters ‌undergo‌ ‌a‌ nine-month ‌training‌ ‌course.‌ ‌During‌ ‌this‌ ‌period‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌taught‌ ‌various‌ ‌disciplines like ‌self-contained‌ ‌breathing‌ ‌apparatus‌ ‌use,‌ ‌swift‌ ‌water‌ ‌rescue,‌ ‌rope‌ ‌rescue,‌ ‌confined‌ ‌space‌ ‌search‌ ‌and‌ ‌rescue‌ ‌techniques‌,‌ ‌Hazmat ‌awareness and level‌ ‌1‌ ‌-‌ ‌3‌ ‌medical‌ ‌assistance,” said Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the City’s fire service.‌ ‌

Operational‌ ‌firefighters‌ ‌work‌ ‌a‌ ‌24-hour‌ ‌shift.‌ ‌They‌ ‌are‌ ‌split‌ into ‌three‌ ‌shifts‌ ‌and‌ ‌the ‌shift‌ starts from ‌9am ‌until‌ 9am ‌the‌ ‌following morning.

“It‌ ‌all‌ ‌starts‌ ‌when‌ ‌we‌ ‌receive‌ ‌an‌ ‌emergency‌ ‌call.‌ ‌For‌ ‌instance,‌ ‌a‌ ‌dwelling‌ ‌might‌ ‌be‌ ‌alight.‌ ‌The‌ ‌call‌ ‌operator‌ ‌will‌ ‌take‌ ‌down‌ ‌the‌ ‌details‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌caller‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌name,‌ ‌telephone‌ ‌number,‌ ‌correct‌ ‌address‌ ‌of‌ ‌incident,‌ across ‌street‌ ‌or‌ ‌landmark,‌ ‌and find out if ‌there‌ ‌are people‌ ‌inside,‌” said Carelse.

The‌ ‌nearest‌ ‌fire‌ ‌station‌ ‌crews‌ ‌are‌ ‌dispatched‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌incident.‌ ‌

The arriving‌ ‌officer‌ ‌checks to see‌ ‌if‌ ‌additional‌ ‌resources are needed‌. If so ‌he‌ ‌‌or‌ ‌she‌ ‌will‌ ‌radio‌ ‌‌the ‌Control‌ ‌Centre‌ ‌in‌ ‌Goodwood ‌and‌ ‌from‌ ‌there,‌ ‌other‌ ‌resources‌ ‌will be‌ ‌dispatched‌ ‌to‌ ‌assist.‌ ‌

‌‌‌Fire‌ ‌engines and ‌water‌ ‌tankers along with ‌fire‌ ‌hoses are used and small‌ ‌gear‌ such‌ ‌as‌ ‌rakes,‌ ‌bush‌ ‌beaters,‌ ‌spades.‌ ‌Portable‌ ‌pumps‌ are also used‌ to draft‌ ‌water‌ ‌from‌ ‌rivers and dams.

The City has 32‌ ‌operational fire‌ ‌stations.‌ ‌During‌ ‌the‌ ‌summer‌ ‌months‌ ‌staff‌ is‌ ‌bolstered‌ ‌by‌ ‌an‌ ‌additional‌ ‌90‌ ‌seasonal‌ ‌firefighters‌ ‌that‌ assist ‌from‌ ‌December‌ 1 ‌to‌ ‌April 30 for vegetation fires. ‌ ‌

Carelse advises the public to ‌call the City’s emergency number for fires.‌ ‌The‌ ‌number‌ ‌is‌ ‌021‌ ‌480‌ ‌77‌‌00‌ ‌and‌ ‌if‌ ‌calling‌ ‌from‌ ‌a‌ ‌landline‌ ‌107.‌

“‌It‌ ‌is‌ ‌imperative‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌call‌ ‌the‌ ‌emergency‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌otherwise‌ ‌we‌ ‌will‌ ‌not‌ ‌know‌ ‌there‌ ‌is‌ ‌an‌ ‌emergency.‌ ‌Too‌ ‌many‌ ‌people‌ ‌still‌ ‌phone‌ ‌10111‌ ‌which‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌SAPS‌ ‌hotline.‌ ‌The‌ ‌sooner‌ ‌we‌ ‌are‌ ‌notified‌ ‌the‌ ‌sooner‌ ‌help‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌sent,” said Carelse.

The summer readiness plan includes having sufficient‌ ‌staff‌ ‌and‌ ‌vehicles‌ ‌to‌ ‌run‌ ‌daily.‌ The department has‌ ‌two‌ ‌helicopters‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌spotter‌ ‌plane‌ ‌available‌ ‌from ‌‌December‌ 1.

‌The‌ ‌dive‌ ‌unit‌ ‌will‌ ‌also‌ ‌be‌ ‌available‌ ‌to assist with‌ ‌any‌ water-related incidents‌ ‌keeping‌ ‌the‌ ‌beachgoers‌ ‌safe.‌ ‌

Weekend Argus

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