Firemen’s safety upgrades in focus after deadly Bank of Lisbon blaze

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba was on Monday expected to honour three firefighters who died in the Bank of Lisbon inferno in September 2018 and will, hopefully, shed light on whether conditions faced by emergency services had improved.

Three firefighters who died while fighting a blaze at the Bank of Lisbon building in Johannesburg in September 2018 will be honoured on Monday.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

After the deaths of Khathutshelo Muedi, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Simphiwe Moropane, firefighters highlighted deadly working conditions in ill-equipped buildings which at times did not have water.

Colleagues of the three described how they put their lives on the line when confronted by the raging fire and inadequate water supply in the office block housing government employees.

Ndlovu‚ 40‚ and Muedi‚ 37, died from the flames and smoke inhalation‚ while Moropane‚ 28‚ died after falling from the 23rd floor.

For several days after the blaze‚ forensic officers combed through the building trying to find the cause of the blaze.

Gauteng premier David Makhura said at the time that officials knew the building did not meet safety-compliance standards.

It was reported that the building was only 20% compliant. Required compliance levels exceeded 80%.

Firefighters had threatened to stop responding to fires in buildings which did not meet compliance standards, saying their concerns about working in dangerous conditions had fallen on deaf ears.

On Monday, the mood was sombre in a hall at the Florida Fire Station, where the service to honour the Bank of Lisbon heroes was scheduled to take place.

Firefighters who battled the blaze will be decorated with Medals of Last Bell and Medals of Valour by acting fire chief Arthur Mqwa.

The families of the deceased firefighters were expected to receive the medals on their behalf.

Source: TMG Digital

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