South Africa: Joburg Gets Much-Needed Firefighting Vehicles

23 September 2019

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has unveiled 10 new firefighting vehicles to be added to the City's Emergency Management Services' fleet.

The vehicles are the first batch to be part of the City's fire and rescue fleet renewal programme.

The strain on the City's firefighting capacity was widely reported in July, with it only having six working vehicles at the time, News24 reported.

The renewal programme was set to add to and substitute the ageing and damaged fleet.

Mashaba was joined by Public Safety MMC Michael Sun and acting Group Corporate and Shared Services MMC Leah Knott in unveiling the new "skid vehicles".

He said the City would be receiving a total of 92 fire engines in the near future.

Mashaba said that, when the multi-party government took over in 2016, there was a tender for the fleet, but that it was cancelled because of irregularities. He said another process had to get under way, delaying the delivery of the fleet.

While reports emerged this past week that 127 firefighters were on suspension, there would be enough capacity to attend to emergencies, the mayor insisted.

"As a city we have just signed a memorandum of understanding with unions, and anyone expecting us to operate outside that, it is unfortunate. We are not going to be held to ransom," said Mashaba.

'Fit for purpose'

He said political oversight was important to ensure that value was obtained for residents.

The skid vehicles would add to the existing Grass Fire Vehicles the City already has. Five more of the vehicles are expected to arrive during the week to bring them to a total of 15.

"We had to ensure that we buy vehicles which are fit for purpose and one of the fire engines we have ordered will be able to go to the highest building [to fight flames]," said Mashaba.

Sun said it had taken a long time to procure the vehicles, but that the City was pleased that there had now been progress.

"This is the beginning and commencement of a delivery schedule that we have all been waiting for [for] so long," Sun said.

He added that the notion that the City was operating with two firefighting engines was not true.

He said, although there was a shortage of fire engines, it was important to understand that the vehicles were built for different purposes.

Residents urged not to damage new vehicles

"As of Friday last week, we have 26 fire appliances running across the City of Johannesburg. Other 19 [vehicles] are currently in workshops being repaired because they are very old. The importance of us [having] to differentiate between the different fire engines is that you can't send one type of vehicle to a specialised scene," Sun said.

He said the addition to the fleet was the beginning of a "wonderful production schedule", and that services would be delivered to residents.

Residents have been urged not to damage the vehicles when protesting about service delivery.

The City is expected to take a delivery of batches of emergency vehicles - including pumper fire engines, hydraulic platforms and heavy duty air trucks - within the next few months.

Source: News24

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