Cape Town’s most recent Fire and Rescue Service statistics showed a decline in most categories for the last year.
Most encouraging is the decline in the number of residential fires – both formal and informal, but also the number of fatalities, which dropped by 29%, year-on-year.
However, the increase in the number of informal dwellings affected is a concern and speaks to the challenges of firefighting in informal settlements.
Among the statistics were:
- a 14% drop in the number of special service calls (motor vehicle accidents, hazardous materials, rescues et cetera);
- a 1.4% drop in the number of informal settlement fires;
- a 13.5% increase in the number of informal dwellings affected;
- a 5.5% reduction in the number of formal residential fires
- a 29% reduction in the number of fire fatalities
- an increase of 8.7% in vegetation fires.
The City continues to invest in its firefighting service, with new fire stations in Masiphumelele and Sir Lowry’s Pass Village in the home straight.
The Gugulethu fire station was reopened on Monday 19 August, following a two-month closure due to damage caused by protestors. It was the third such closure of the fire station since July 2018.
Repairs and increased security measures necessitated by the continued targeting of the station cost nearly R1.2 million.
This includes R247 000 on a fence to enclose the fire station and R315 000 to install new sectional overhead doors.
“We’ve highlighted the attacks on our staff before, whether it be vehicles that are stoned on route to fires or hoses cut while the staff is trying to extinguish fires. But the attacks on Gugulethu have been particularly problematic.
“The firefighters have agreed to return each time and continue serving the community who has turned on them no less than three times in the last year, speaks to their commitment and dedication to the job.
“It has been a traumatic and trying time for all concerned, and I sincerely hope that the madness will come to a stop. There is no justification for destroying infrastructure, not least that which is meant to save lives and property,” said Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith.