Following an assessment on Wednesday 11 October 2023, officials from the KZN Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) commended Newcastle Municipality’s firefighters for their effectiveness.
During the October Fire Prevention Week, taking place from 8 October until 14 October 2023, the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) PDMC representatives visited Newcastle to assess the local firefighting capabilities.
The PDMC, along with its Deputy Director for Fire and Rescue, scrutinised the functioning and efficiency of the local firefighting teams.
Recognising the pivotal role of municipal firefighters in community safety, a PDMC official emphasised the need to evaluate municipal firefighting teams and their capacities. “Newcastle Municipality’s firefighters are better than many other towns in the province, particularly within the Amajuba District, which comprises Newcastle, Dannhauser, and eMadlangeni (Utrecht). Among these, Newcastle stands out as the best,” stated the official.
From their emergency response to their operations within the community, the PDMC highlighted that the local firefighting team deserved commendation for their diligent work. “While there are certain challenges and areas that need some polish, such as the shift system, overall, the team is performing commendably,” remarked the PDMC official.
According to Newcastle Municipality’s Fire Chief, Stephanus Botha, Newcastle Firefighters have managed to vanquish nearly 300 fires over the past year while boasting an average response time of 12 minutes.
This is bearing in mind that the team covers a wide area encompassing Newcastle, Madadeni and Osizweni.
“It is important to respond to fires as soon as possible, as the longer fires burn, the worse they get. We also respond as fast as possible, to ensure people have evacuated from the scene and that no one runs back in,” said Botha. He further emphasised that the safety of the community remained the firefighting team’s main priority.
Furthermore, in their quest to prevent avoidable fire related fatalities, the PDMC officials urged residents to exercise caution when using fire, advocating for the presence of fire extinguishers and vigilance in attending to open flames.
“Additionally, for those using gas stoves, understanding the location of the emergency valve is crucial. In the event of a fire, being able to shut off the gas supply is paramount.”
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