New fire chief appointed at Umvoti

2019-07-10 06:01
photo: Andile sithole Fire Chief Officer for Umvoti Fire Station, Xolani Ndawonde.

photo: Andile sithole Fire Chief Officer for Umvoti Fire Station, Xolani Ndawonde.

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WHEN Xolani Ndawonde was growing up in the Woolstone area in Greytown he was passionate about becoming a firefighter. His desire to save people’s lives grew even stronger when he was at high school.

“People who were close to me — I think they played an instrumental role in motivating me to become a firefighter. My uncle was my role model,” he said.

Ndawonde is the new Chief Fire Officer of Umvoti Fire Station.

Ndawonde started his job as a firefighter in 2009 at the Rural Metro Training Academy in Greytown — which was later merged with Umvoti Municipality in 2012.

He schooled at Quarme Primary School and matriculated at LC Mtshali Combined in 2002.

“I always encourage young firefighters working in my unit to be dedicated to their work if they want to prosper. Being a firefighter encouraged me to work harder.

“What I enjoy the most about my job is the fact that I save people’s lives in cases of emergency,” Ndawonde said.

As Chief Fire Officer he is responsible for the functioning of the organisation. He must make sure that residents are safe.

“I also assist the team in conducting proper education and training, hence the functioning of the fire station lies upon my shoulders.

“We also attend to motor vehicle accidents.

“In our training I tell junior firefighters that they must be brave.

“Attending road accidents and seeing critically injured people requires us to be brave enough to deal with the situation.

“In my years of experience working for the fire department there is one road accident that I will never forget in my life. It was an accident that happened at Sambamba Road near Kranskop in 2017. Headless bodies were scattered all around the road.

“The other accident happened on the R74 involving one of the firefighters — I had to send the crew for trauma counselling offered by Umvoti Municipality,” he said.

In Ndawonde’s unit there are currently 19 firefighters reporting to him.

“We work in all the 14 wards of Umvoti Municipality and surrounding areas,” said Ndawonde. “Our team uses mobile vehicles to respond to fire emergencies. We also have a partnership with local farmers.”

“As Umvoti Fire Station we also do inspections at stores to ensure that they comply with the fire compliance. Should they need a certificate, I, the chief officer, issue the fire compliance certificate.

“If the store does not comply with the fire compliance, we enforce the fire by-laws upon them and assist them to comply.

“We also hold awareness campaigns in schools and communities about fire safety. Anyone who wishes our team to come and conduct an awareness campaign should send us a letter and give us one-week notice.”

Ndawonde urged the youth who may wish to pursue careers as firefighters to receive good marks in mathematics and science.

“Matrics with good marks in maths and physical science are the first requirements for our job. They need to be computer literate and be physically fit. There is room to grow once you are in the department but a good firefighter must be a go-getter and be willing to go the extra mile,” Ndawonde added.

Ndawonde warned residents to be cautious with fire this winter season, adding that necessary precautions should be taken into consideration to avoid wild fires.

In case of emergency contact the Greytown call centre at 033 417 2911.


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