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More than 1 800 hopefuls spent the past week trying out for the City’s 120 seasonal firefighting jobs. The additional resources are crucial to handling an average of nearly 7 500 vegetation fires every summer. 

The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service has spent the last week identifying potential candidates for its seasonal firefighter posts.

The service recruits 120 individuals every year to shore up its defences against vegetation fires between November and April. From Monday to Friday this week (14 – 18 August 2017), nearly 2 000 hopefuls passed through the City’s Ndabeni facility to try and clear the first hurdle: a basic fitness assessment.

The assessment included:

  • a reach test
  • a 2,4 km run within a prescribed time
  • 30 sit-ups within 60 seconds
  • 30 push-ups within 60 seconds
  • a 50 kg dead load carry over 100 m

‘This fitness assessment is standard, even for candidates seeking permanent employment with the City’s Safety and Security Directorate. On paper it might not seem that daunting, but I would venture a guess that many people would struggle to complete the tasks. I want to congratulate those candidates who persevered and commiserate with those who didn’t make it this time around,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

A short video of the candidates’ efforts can be viewed here:

A total of 846 candidates successfully completed the basic fitness assessment. Next, they will be required to complete written and behavioural assessments. The top overall performers will be offered contracts as seasonal firefighters and will start their firefighting training on 1 November 2017. The four-week long wildland firefighting course includes the basics of fighting vegetation fires, familiarisation with different types of equipment and specific use of the equipment through simulation drills, as well as the specific roles and functions of each staff member when responding to a vegetation fire.

Seasonal firefighters are expected to work at least 40 hours a week for the duration of their contracts. Their key tasks include firefighting duties under the guidance and supervision of firefighters and officers, preparing for emergency incidents, and creating fire breaks along the urban edge (see photo above).

‘We experience anywhere between 6 000 – 9 000 vegetation fires during summer in Cape Town. Our seasonal recruits are crucial to our efforts to protect lives and property during this very busy period.

‘This is a win-win situation because we are able to increase our firefighting capabilities when we need them most, but we are also transferring skills and creating economic opportunities for our residents. An opportunity like this not only means valuable skills for the seasonal firefighter, but the character, determination and service to the community are attributes that I believe would stand them in good stead for future employment opportunities, whether in the public service or private sector. This provision of a stepping stone is in line with our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan which seeks to help equip our residents to access economic opportunities,’ added Alderman Smith.


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