South Africa: Only Half of Joburg’s Fire Engines Are Working

SAVE OUR CITY: There are more issues troubling the City of Johannesburg than hijacked buildings, writes Everson Luhanga.

Johannesburg Emergency Services (EMS) doesn’t have enough fire engines and the city might have to rely on neighbouring municipalities in an emergency.

EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said out of the city’s 30 fire engines, only 15 are in working order while the other 15 are gathering dust.

The missing 15 engines have mechanical faults that need repairs.

He said although that is the case, the city is alert and has not struggled in time of need. In the recent fire incidents in the city, the department has managed well by containing the incidents without reaching out to its counterparts.

“We have stationed our fire engines in places that have a big risk of fires like the Johannesburg inner city,” said Mulaudzi.

He said the city has not experienced high demand for fire engines to respond to local fires.

Mulaudzi said at the moment five fire stations have been dedicated to monitoring developments in the Joburg inner city as it has become the epicentre of fire incidents in recent months. “The fire engines in these five fire stations are being placed in high-risk areas to monitor incidents of fire.”

Mulaudzi said this past winter, the department responded to 203 fire incidents, most of them in informal settlements. Some of these fires caused loss of life to a number of residents.

During the Marshalltown fire, the city was accused of a late response to the tragedy that claimed 77 lives.

Besides these troubles experienced by the city, some other issues need urgent attention. The houses belonging to the Brixton firefighters have been hijacked and illegally occupied by people who are not working for the City of Johannesburg.

When the Scrolla.Africa team visited the Brixton fire station, the yard next door that once housed serving firefighters was brimming with residents. The new occupants of the yard didn’t want to speak to our team. One resident told our team to go next door, which is a functioning fire station.

If that is not enough, the house that used to house the chief of the Sandton fire station has been taken over by people who are not part of the firefighting team. No one is taking responsibility for how these buildings have been hijacked.

Speaking on the hijacked homes, EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said that all buildings are managed by the Johannesburg Property Company and not the EMS. They directed the questions to the JPC.


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