Risky situation for city fire services, report reveals

2012-04-06 00:00

THERE are more woes with Pietermaritzburg’s infrastructure, and this time it is the city’s fire department that has a large number of fire hydrants which are unserviceable.

This was revealed in a quarterly report of the Fire and Rescue Services Unit (for the period of October to December 2011), which was tabled for noting at yesterday’s executive committee meeting at the city hall.

In the report, manager for fire and rescue services, William Paton said not only does this place the fire service “in an embarrassing and risky situation at a fire incident, but it also places council at risk especially where hydrant testing and reporting has been concluded”.

In his report he said that the water section has difficulties in repairing and reinstating these fire hydrants in good time.

“Once again, of concern to the unit is the absence of fire stations in the greater Vulindlela area and the eastern suburbs (Northdale, Eastwood and Willowton industrial area) of the city,” he said.

Paton said response times are critical in the life and/or property saving of a reported emergency. The distance and traffic congestion from the city centre to these areas are a major factor, the report stated.

Paton’s report also revealed that the South African National Standard (SANS) Community Protection Against Fire standard prescribes a maximum attendance time of eight minutes from the time the notice of a fire call is received until the time the fire engine arrives on scene in central business district, industrial/commercial and dense residential risk areas.

He said this attendance time is increased to a maximum of 23 minutes in an area of rural development.

“Whilst these attendance times are mostly achieved in the city area and Edendale basin, attendance times to Vulindlela and Northdale are not always achieved,” he said.

He applauded his staff who perform their duties, often under difficult and dangerous circumstances. He also applauded other essential services units in the municipality and other spheres of government for always providing assistance.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said these are all the things that they are working on to fix the city, although some will not be achieved in this financial year, but in the 2012/13 budget they will ensure that they are covered.

For fire or rescue emergencies call 0800 033 911/ 033 845 5911.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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