Questions over fire department's slow response to fire on their doorstep

2017-05-01 22:50
This images shows the remains of a house in KwaNongoma Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, which was burnt to the ground after fire fighters took 30 minutes to arrive at the scene. (Supplied)

This images shows the remains of a house in KwaNongoma Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, which was burnt to the ground after fire fighters took 30 minutes to arrive at the scene. (Supplied)

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Durban - A fire department in KwaNongoma Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, took 30 minutes to arrive at a burning house within footsteps from the municipality’s main fire station, a neighbour said.

According to a neighbour who wishes not to be named out of fear for their safety, the house started burning at 14:00 on Sunday afternoon.

"We phoned and told the fire department. A security guard phoned the standby officer who was not in the town at that moment," the neighbour said.

"When fire fighters eventually arrived after 30 minutes, some were dressed in casual clothes and the fire truck's hose pipe was broken."

The neighbour said one fire fighter was wearing a dress.

"The fire fighters were running away from the flames because they were afraid. If it wasn't for the community carrying buckets of water there would only be ashes left of the house."

Fire readiness

An 11-year-old was injured during the incident, but emergency response services refused to come to the scene.

"I phoned the ambulance and police. They never showed up. The ambulance kept on asking questions and making excuses and then I decided I'll take the child to the hospital myself," the neighbour said.

The neighbour said a friend of mayor arrived on Monday.

"He was driving the fire station's car. Why does the mayor's friend drive the fire department's car and not the fire department?" the neighbour asked.

KwaZulu-Natal Democratic Alliance leader Zwakele Mncwango said the party has written to Municipal Manager Bonga Ntanzi to get clarity regarding readiness of the municipality to respond to fire incidences.

"This incident clearly shows that the life of rural people is not a priority for those in power," Mncwango said in a statement.

"We want the municipal manager to investigate the state of readiness in this department to respond to emergencies. They need to explain what caused this lethargic response to the fire."

KwaNongoma Municipality Executive Mayor Sithembiso Mataba ended a phone call with News24 when he was asked about the incident.

He did not respond to subsequent calls or messages.

Read more on:    durban  |  fires

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