To know I saved a life is the biggest honour, says firefighter up for award

2013-09-10 00:00

“TO know another person continues to live because of what I did, is the greatest honour I could ever achieve in my career.”

That his how Pietermaritzburg fire fighter Ronie Ndlovu from the uMgu­ngundlovu District Municipality fire department described being one of three people nominated for a national bravery award.

The Centrum Guardians awards recognise distinguished service in the emergency services.

The winner will be announced on Thursday.

He was nominated after he saved a woman from falling to her death at Howick Falls last year.

Ndlovu and his partner had rushed to Howick Falls and when they arrived, they found a woman with her head under water and dangling from the edge of the falls.

“I could not see the women as her head was buried under the water … I knew that every second counted.”

He said although he had been a firefighter for 15 years, nothing had prepared him for that rescue.

In a daring rescue effort, he tied a rescue rope to a tree and then around himself and slid towards the woman.

He then tied the rope around her and called to those at the scene to pull him up.

“Nothing had prepared me for that rescue, it was just bravery and I drew on my survival skills as a firefighter.”

“As far as I know, no one had survived [a fall] from that edge; where she was, it was a point of no return,” he said.

He said the nomination for the bravery award was a big honour, but knowing that he saved someone’s life was an even bigger honour.

“To know that someone out there lives and says the reason [they are] alive is because of me, is the greatest honour possible.”

Ndlovu is not the only firefighter from the uMgungundlovu district to be honoured.

Jonathan Pillay and his colleague Sma Shelembe were also honoured on Friday. Pillay was named student of the year by the South African Emergency Services Institute and Shelembe was the first woman officer to obtain national qualifications in fire technology.

Those wishing to vote for Ndlovu can SMS the word ‘Instinct’ to 34020 or vote on Facebook.

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