Failing at fire fighting

THE poor response time of the Ndlambe fire department has come up twice this month.

One of Ndlambe’s fire engines attending to a veld fire near 43 Air School and Marjorie Parrish TB Hospital recently Picture: JON HOUZET

First, for a fire at an RDP house in Thornhill, which is just down the drag from the Port Alfred fire station on the R67. If true, it’s appalling that the fire tender took an hour to arrive on the scene.

If it wasn’t for community members coming together to fight the fire and rescue the man inside the house, it might have been much worse. They fetched buckets of water and extinguished the blaze before the fire truck arrived. As it is, the man lost all his possessions to the flames, but the structure was saved.

Then on Monday, a fire gutted the Kenton Bakery in the Kenton CBD. Again, it was the community who came together to fight the blaze, while they were waiting for the fire department to arrive.

Hi-Tec Security response officers were especially commended for saving the building and preventing the fire spreading to neighbouring businesses. They apparently went in armed with fire extinguishers and systematically fought back the flames.

As the owners said on Facebook, thankfully no one was hurt but unfortunately the shop is completely gutted.

This time we heard the fire truck from Port Alfred was stuck at a stop-go, yet another example of how the roadworks have had painful side-effects.

The failure of the Ndlambe fire department in these incidents has raised more serious questions.

An angry Thornhill resident who helped fight the fire at his neighbour’s RDP house alluded that there was a plan for the Sarah Baartman district municipality to take over the Ndlambe fire department because of Ndlambe’s alleged incapacity to fulfil its mandate.

And related to this, a Kenton resident asked TotT to again enquire about the emergency services response centre at Bushman’s River, which was completed a year ago, but still stands empty due to some bureaucratic red tape. Again, it depends on the district municipality.

The response centre was built to replace an old fire shed which housed a fire tender for that area.

Now there is a nice new building but no fire truck.

As the Kenton man said, if the centre was working as intended, it could have responded so much faster to the Kenton Bakery fire.

We have asked Ndlambe Municipality again about this, and about the perceived inadequacy of its fire department. We have received no answers.

– Jon Houzet

Leave a Reply