The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service has started the scoping works for two new fire stations in Masiphumelele and Sir Lowry’s Pass/Somerset West. A total of R13 million has been set aside for each facility.
Currently, the projects are in the design phase, with construction expected to begin in the first quarter of 2017 and to near completion towards the end of 2018.
‘The Masiphumelele project is especially crucial. The area is prone to devastating structural fires as we’ve witnessed in previous years. The South Peninsula has also been ravaged by a number of vegetation fires over the last two summer seasons, so another fire station in this part of the metro is a no-brainer. It means that our firefighters are able to get to the scene quicker and save lives and also property,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.There are 30 fire stations across the metro (please view map here: http://tinyurl.com/zlewl9w), with the oldest being the Roeland Street Fire Station that was built in 1929 and commissioned into service in June 1932 (the embedded photos show this station as it looked then and now). These are supported by the 10 disaster management volunteer base stations that the City has built and opened over the last two years.
While Somerset West has an existing facility, it is not a fire station but a converted workshop with space for staff and administrative duties. The new fire station will service Somerset West and Sir Lowry’s Pass village.
In addition to the new fire stations, the Fire and Rescue Service is in the process of introducing 12 new fire engines to its fleet. These vehicles have been acquired at a cost of just over R3 million each. They are the first of their kind in South Africa and are able to traverse both urban and rural terrain. They have GPS functionality, tiptronic gearboxes and the pump can provide 4 000 litres per minute (lpm) at 10 bar or 100 lpm at 40 bar pressure. In addition, there is more space for equipment and personnel and the vehicles are fitted with telescopic scene lighting, which is particularly useful in informal settlements and on freeways.
The pumps can produce water or foam with a single control and can be operated independently, which frees up the pump operator. Other features include an automatic water tank level system which maintains the tank at a three-quarter-level while pumping. It also shuts off automatically when full and contains a peripheral tank level indicator.
In terms of human resources, last month Fire and Rescue Service put 484 applicants through their paces to become learner-trainee firefighters. The recruitment process will be completed in August 2016 and the successful recruits will start their eight-month training course in October 2016. At the same time, 43 previous trainee firefighters will be deployed on a full-time basis.
The search for 120 seasonal firefighters will also get under way in August 2016. This group will be deployed from 1 December 2016 until the end of April 2017 to assist professional firefighters with veld fires, veld fire management and prevention methods.
‘We’ve invested so much in our Fire and Rescue Service since 2006 and the results are evident because Cape Town is one of the best resourced cities in the country. It’s an investment that’s worth making, considering the fires that we experience every year. We are doing all that we can to make this a safer city, but we need residents to assist us by becoming more fire-aware and work with us to curb the number of preventable fires that are sadly all too common,’ added Alderman Smith.
Fires should be reported immediately to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.