Hibiscus firemen only at station during daytime

2011-08-05 00:00

MANAGEMENT at Hibiscus Coast Municipality has decided that its fire department should not be in operation 24 hours a day as it was in the past. Instead, firemen now work five days a week from 7.30 am until 4.30 pm.

This was brought to light following a recent media report about a distraught Marburg family whose home caught alight. The family claimed that firemen took 30 minutes to arrive at the scene, which was a five-minute drive from the station in Oslo Beach. They felt there could have been more damage control if the firemen responded timeously.

Since the new working hours came into effect, firefighters attend to emergencies after 4.30 pm from their homes. In the case of an incident, operators at Protection Services control room have to alert each fireman.

The firemen then depart from their homes, meet at the station and then finally depart to the scene.

A person who wants to remain unnamed, said it was “unfair that the firemen always take the blame for not responding quickly enough”.

“The firemen did not want their shifts changed. It was the powers that be at the municipality that are responsible,” said the source.

Hibiscus Coast Municipality spokesperpson Simon Soboyisa confirmed that the emergency personnel’s working hours have been changed.

“There is inadequate staff for a 24-hour shift operation considering that dedicated staff is needed for the airport and services still [have] to be equally maintained in the rural areas,” he said.

“Management decided that the status quo must remain considering the staffing levels and the budget constraints,” added Soboyisa.

In the past, teams worked four consecutive days and were then given four consecutive days off.

The four days worked included night time duty from a different team.

This meant that the fire station was manned 24 hours a day.

He said management is “trying to explore the 24-hour shift system with minimal resources”.

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