Cape Town shack fire deaths down

By Drum Digital
08 January 2014

The number of deaths as a result of informal settlement fires in the Cape metropole has almost halved in the past eight years, the City of Cape Town said on Wednesday.

Statistics showed the informal settlement fire mortality rate decreased from 7.9 per 100,000 in 2006 to 4.3 per 100,000 in 2013.

For all parts of the Cape metropole, both informal settlements and other areas, the fire-related mortality rate was 2.6 per 100,000, compared to the national average of between four and seven.

The number of fire-related deaths, however, had seen a year-on-year increase from 105 in 2012 to 128 last year.

"Too many residential fires continue to be the result of negligence when using cooking and heating devices," mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said.

"There has also been an increase in causes relating to the improper use of electricity and illegal electricity connections, as well as instances where fires have been set deliberately as a result of domestic disputes."

The city was increasing its awareness and education drives, but urged residents to implement safety measures to prevent fires.

The city was also adding to its fire-fighting capacity during the current summer season.

New measures included:

  • 120 seasonal fire-fighters deployed at various fire stations;
  • 43 new fire-fighters graduated from the city's training academy in December;
  • the fire and rescue services section was currently training 75 reservist fire-fighters; and
  • the acquisition of specialised 4x4 compressed air foam tankers which would help extinguish fires more quickly, especially in informal settlements. - Sapa

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