fire engines

Latest: eThekwini Municipality to fix fire engines, stations

The DA conducted an inquiry into the poor state of fire stations in eThekwini Municipality and week called on city management to intervene.

fire engines

eThekwini Municipality has admitted that it had “experienced some challenges” with acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) for fire department staff.

But it has denied a raft of additional allegations, including that the city was using non-roadworthy vehicles, made by Democratic Alliance eThekwini Municipality councillor Yogiswarie Govender. She said an informal inquiry had revealed shocking details of an “embattled, crippled” fire department. 

Govender alleged that the DA had received reports regarding challenges at eThekwini Municipality fire statons in the Tongaat, Verulam, Umhlanga, Ntuzuma, Phoenix, and Durban North Fire stations.

The alleged challenges regarding eThekwini Municipality fire stations had included:

  • Defective plumbing, air-conditioners and rear gates,
  • Poor general station maintenance
  • Nil supply of oxygen cylinders for emergencies
  • The Verulam fire station, which is a brand new facility, remains closed due to an indefinite moratorium on staff recruitment
  • Lack of PPE and uniforms,
  • Lack of roadworthy fleet and non-roadworthy rescue pumpers resulting in a panel van used as a fire engine
  • Lack of necessary firefighting equipment

Responding to the allegations eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said: “We are not aware of any uniform shortages in the Department. However, we can state that the Unit is currently in the process of changing its uniform colour and experienced some challenges with firefighting PPE not being locally manufactured,” he said.

“Procurement is currently underway to procure uniforms and PPE for immediate needs with open tender also underway for the bulk procurement.”

The Verulam fire station was one of the buildings/project targeted by the eThekwini Municipality for implementation in the adjustment budget.

However, Mayisela said it was not true that the city lacked a roadworthy fleet.

“We do, however, have some trucks that could not be immediately repaired as original equipment manufacturer contracts expired in January 2021. City Fleet is currently repairing those vehicles and some are already back and utilised. The process to procure these repair services has started. The vehicles in use are roadworthy,” he said.

He added that all fire stations were “utilised and occupied 24/7/365”.

“All reported defects are on record and the normal process is followed for the architectural maintenance department to get service providers to effect repairs. Maintaining our stations has not been an issue, and this is done as per schedule,” he said.

Mayisela said the city had no frozen posts in the eThekwini fire department. 

“Recruitment processes are being followed in this regard,” he said.