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HUNTER’S HILL AH – Local firefighters talk about life as a firefighter in a developing city where aged fire engines are frequently in repair. #CAP

The City of Johannesburg’s firefighters are not only fighting fires, but delivering their services to an increasing population with limited resources.

According to the City’s Emergency Management Services spokesperson, Robert Muluadzi, the City has 28 fire stations, each with at least one fire engine that services close to four and a half million people.

The City’s new MMC for Public Safety, Micheal Sun, recently made headlines for returning 29 fire engines to the roads. Some engines were in repairs for months, however, this seems to be a more complicated problem.

“Today we might have a full operational vehicle, tomorrow it is entirely different,” Muluadzi said.

He explained that fire engines bought by the City are manufactured internationally. These vehicles have been on the roads for decades, running and fighting fires 24 hours a day. These vehicles have constant mechanical problems. A new vehicle can work for six months or a year without repairs, the spokesperson said.

“Repair time depends on the fault and parts. Getting the parts is the most challenging since these are international vehicles and parts have to be ordered. It is not manufactured locally.”

At Hunter’s Hill Fire Station, one fire engine services places such as Zandspruit and Cosmo City. It’s last repair took only a week, meaning the station’s 40 trained firefighters, who are also medical technicians, do not need to help out at another station, wait for another station’s engine or use an alternative small vehicle.

The station’s red engine, Mufasa, that has been in service since 1995, also spends a lot of time at workshops being repaired for mechanical problems.

Sun revealed that a new fleet of fire engines is expected next year. Additionally, two new fire stations, in Protea Glen and Cosmo City respectively, will be built,

“As the community expands, we need to expand.”

This would create opportunities for aspiring firefighters such as the 5 000 that applied for 300 positions in February, however, Mulaudzi does not think there will be a time where stations will have enough resources.

“As soon as you have enough resources, there will be another development.”

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