Firefighters drive pink

2019-10-29 06:00

Strandfontein resident, Baigum Abrahams has been named the Toughest Firefighter Alive for the second year running.

Abrahams, who joined the fire brigade last year is stationed at the Mitchell’s Plain Fire Station.

Firefighters from around the country flexed their muscles at the annual Toughest Firefighter Alive competition last month.

The City of Cape Town’s fire and rescue service hosted 106 firefighters in what has become the country’s premier firefighting challenge. The tough men and women also showed their softer side when a pink firefighting vehicle was unveiled.

The Toughest Firefighter Alive is a two-day competition held at the Roeland Street Fire Station in which 106 contenders from around the country battle it out for the title of being South Africa’s Toughest Firefighter Alive.

“Firefighting is a physically demanding job and this competition tests every aspect of what is required of them on a daily basis. South African firefighters are up there with the best and have proven themselves on the international stage. There is no doubt you have to be tough to be a firefighter and there are no losers. Congratulations Emile and especially our own Baigum who pipped the others to the post,” says Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith.

Last year was Abrahams first year competing (“Her flame shines bright”, People’s Post, 21 August).

An unfortunate incident that saw her home engulfed in flames was the initial spark that ignited her passion for fire fighting.

She started her career job shadowing at Ottery station, and this along with a decade of lifesaving, solidified her desire and passion for saving lives.

“I started out doing lifesaving when I was 13 and have been competitively involved in sport and gymnastics. I think being involved in lifesaving for so many years really groomed my desire to make a difference and give back to the community, making a positive impact on the community. Being a firefighter is very rewarding,” said Abrahams at the time.

“Around two years ago, my son and I were sick. I was frying chips and left the oil on the stove. I fell asleep and could not smell the oil burning so I nearly burnt my house down. Firefighters from the Mitchell’s Plain fire station responded and extinguished the fire. That was an inspiration to me and I wanted to know more about the service.”

Following the incident, she did a stint as a seasonal firefighter.

“I wanted to make sure that this is what I wanted to do and see exactly what it was about,” she said

She added that being a woman in a profession regarded to be a man’s world has not affected her.

“I value being a woman and I believe I am a strong woman. We have many women in the brigade and just recently we had all-female staff on the back of the truck. That was so amazing during Women’s Month,” said Abrahams.

And strong she is, having beat out a host of the nations’ best competitors again.

Firefighters were tested on their fitness, endurance and skillset and have to complete a number of challenges in full firefighting gear, including a hose drag, obstacle course, tower ascent and an 800 metre run.

The aim of the competition is to promote a spirit of excellence and produce firefighters who are able to compete on the international stage; to equip them with skills that enable them to perform to the peak of their abilities, to continue to push the boundaries in delivering a better, high quality service; and to boost their morale.

The City’s fire and rescue service also announced an initiative to support the Sunflower Fund with its continued efforts to assist patients who fight blood diseases by raising funds for the recruitment of blood stem cell donors

“To provide support and highlight the good work that is being carried out by the foundation, our service has converted one of our vehicles in a similar fashion as has been initiated overseas. Our service now has a bright pink fire engine which we hope will be a symbol of hope to those who are diagnosed with life-threatening illness and an encouragement to others to support these initiatives,” says Smith.

The pink fire engine representing women and children, is named Hope and is a refurbished Ford FMC. Hope is the first pink fire engine in the fleet and also the first in the country.

“Hope is an acronym for Helping Our People Everywhere and will operate out of Wynberg fire station,” says Smith

Hope should not be associated with a vehicle responding to emergencies and is strictly assigned and supportive of terminal illness awareness campaigns and the support they provide.

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