Emergency services reject claims that firefighters' death caused by negligence

2015-05-18 18:27
Fire (<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shuttertstock</a>)

Fire (Shuttertstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – Johannesburg emergency services on Monday rejected claims by the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) that lack of equipment and negligence led to the deaths of two firefighters in a blaze in the city centre.

“We want to distance ourselves from these misleading and unfounded allegations,” said spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi. “The four firefighters affected by smoke inhalation had full protective gear, breathing apparatus and a portable radio.”

Two of the firefighters died from smoke inhalation while fighting a fire in a basement of the Nedbank Mall on Albertina Sisulu Street.

Another one was admitted to hospital with smoke inhalation. The fire began around 19:00 on Saturday and was extinguished around 03:00 on Sunday.  

Samwu's deputy regional secretary, Paul Tlhabang, said the firefighters went into the building without a hose they could have used to help them find the way out.

“It was pure negligence from the manager responsible,” Tlhabang said, adding that the first team on the scene decided not to enter the building after assessing the situation.

A manager was contacted and arrived about 45 minutes later. When he arrived he allegedly insisted firefighters enter the building, Tlhabang said.

“Our understanding is that as they were going to where the fire was, they experienced a shortage of oxygen but couldn’t get back because they got lost in there.”

Thlabang, who was at the scene on Sunday morning, said the firefighters had breathing apparatus, but that this provided enough oxygen for about 30 minutes, with another five to 10 minutes in reserve.

“We deeply regret what happened. It should have been avoided.”

Mulaudzi said the labour department was investigating the matter.

“Right now our focus is on helping the families to bury their loved ones and go on with their lives.”

He said the families still needed to give permission for the names of the two men to be made public.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  fire

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.