Haswell calls for fire fleet report

2009-06-19 00:00

WHILE Msunduzi Municipality firefighters blame council management for an inadequate fire fleet, municipal manager Rob Haswell has called for the assessment of the overall capacity of the department.

Haswell tabled a report at yesterday’s executive committee (Exco) meeting at which he said it is necessary to establish a factual record of the fire service’s response to the recent burning of the Colonial Building, and the working order of the fire fleet.

If vehicles are not in working order, then who is responsible for ensuring that they are operational, he asked.

Firefighters told The Witness they had tried their best to quell the fire, but that faulty equipment let them down. They accused the municipality of not prioritising the fire department and said they had alerted it years ago about the problems.

“They now want to shift the blame, but records prove that we’ve marched twice to the city hall to try to get them to address these problems,” said a firefighter.

Although they travelled to Johannesburg earlier this week to scout new engines, they berated council’s lax response in acquiring vehicles with 4x4 capabilities. If a fire were to break out in the Edendale area, therefore, they would not be able to fight it, they said.

They accused deputy municipal manager Zwe Hulane and fire chief Billy Paton of sitting on reports and not tabling them before Exco. They claim that firefighting equipment should be checked, tested and maintained regularly, and records constantly updated. All faults are recorded, they said, and they allege that Hulane and Paton have deliberately withheld this information.

Hulane and Paton declined to respond to questions from The Witness and said the issue will be dealt with by Exco.

Hulane told the council he has already prepared a report, but would present it at the next management committee meeting before tabling it at Exco.

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