The City of Johannesburg is currently facing a crisis when it comes to its firefighting capabilities.
The City’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokesperson, Nana Radebe, confirmed to News24 that the municipality had 12 fire engines at the moment, six of which have gone for repairs. They are expected back next week.
One Johannesburg resident was left fuming on Wednesday after his Linden house was gutted by a fire.
The City had to rely on a fire engine from Cosmo City, which is 20km away and one from Florida fire station that is 10km away, to battle the blaze.
According to Maggs Naidu, the Roosevelt Park fire station does not have a fire engine to assist nearby residents.
Naidu was in Limpopo and his wife was at work when the fire broke out.
“According to the insurance people, who evaluated my home, the fire was caused by electrical cables. Our domestic worker, who was home at the time, said the lights went off and the house caught fire.
“It is a disgrace for the City. It is outrageous for a popular city to have six fire engines. People are dying because of its incompetence, people are being neglected by the City. Fortunately, no one died when the fire started in my house.”
Naidu said his family had received humanitarian aid from people who heard about the fire.
“My family is OK, and we are capable of surviving this. What about those who can’t afford insurance? How does it happen that it took 40 minutes for the fire engine to respond? When it arrived, it took them another 10 minutes to pressurise the water.
“Imagine if they were responding to a shack fire, they would have found people dead,” Naidu said.
Radebe said the City relied on neighbouring municipalities, such as Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, to assist in fighting big fires.
“We are aware of the incident that happened on Wednesday. There are plans to acquire an extra 29 fire engines for the entire city. Some of the ones we have are old and constantly go for repairs. Last year, we acquired four engines to assist the eight we had, which are old and have been in use for the past 15 to 20 years.
“We have a crisis. We have removed all our fire engines from responding to medical calls. They are now dealing with fire incidents and motor vehicle accidents,” said Radebe.
She added there were glitches to secure a tender for more fire engines.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba confirmed in a tweet that the City would be acquiring more fire engines.
In September 2018, concerns were raised about the City’s firefighting capabilities when the Bank of Lisbon building in the city centre went up in flames, claiming the lives of firefighters Simphiwe Moropane, 28, Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, and Khathutshelo Muedi, 37.