Western Cape ready for winter disasters, fires

2016-05-17 19:15
(News24 user: Mark van Rensburg)

(News24 user: Mark van Rensburg)

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Cape Town – Winter may be coming to the Western Cape, but the legislature is comfortable with the province’s readiness to handle disasters and fire.

The provincial standing committee on local government was "quite impressed" by a follow-up presentation on Tuesday regarding the readiness of municipalities.

Committee chairperson Masizole Mnqasela said the "comprehensive" briefing by local government officials had allayed their fears about staff numbers at some disaster management centres.

Last month, it emerged that some centres had just one staff member.

Mnqasela said disaster management had an incident command system which relayed feedback from all five district municipalities and the Cape Town metro.

"They have got early warning signals which they then utilise to check how they respond, like do they need helicopters, fire engines or specialised equipment? We were quite impressed," he told News24.

Help was available from national departments and Petro SA, Chevron, Eskom, ACSA, airports, the defence force and the navy.

They were told about a pilot project in Drakenstein, where 200 informal settlement homes were fitted with fire alarms. This project would allow people to get out and save themselves, and reduce the risk to babies and toddlers stuck in shacks.

Mnqasela said officials were "bragging" about a $5.6m system which mapped out where there were problems with fires.

"I told them this is the kind of thing we wanted to hear so we can sleep tonight," he said.

Officials, however, felt no municipality in the country had the required capacity.

Working on Fire (WoF) resources helped provide the required numbers of staff and vehicles, said Mnqasela.

There had been concerns in the past about proper servicing of helicopters used to fight fire. In March 2015, WoF pilot Hendrik "Bees" Marais was killed when his Garlick U1-1H helicopter crashed.

The SA Civil Aviation Authority concluded that daily maintenance inspections would likely have prevented the crash in the Cape Point National Park.

The disaster management centre said it was ensuring that those helicopters were tested and monitored.

Read more on:    cape town  |  weather

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