Beitbridge Municipality overhauls weak fire department

Residents on Sunday reacted angrily when the firefighters failed to operate a new fire tender because they were not trained.

THE Municipality of Beitbridge has overhauled its fire and rescue department to improve service delivery and correct anomalities which  previously resulted in substantial losses following fire incidents, triggering a public outcry.

Residents on Sunday reacted angrily when the firefighters failed to operate a new fire tender because they were not trained.

Town Clerk Loud Ramakgapola said the department would now run on three teams, two active shifts and another on standby while training of the entire team is imminent.

Ramakgapola  said efficient functioning of council’s fire department was vital for guaranteeing public safety and preventing, as well as minimising property damage during emergencies.

“Unfortunate instances of inadequate response and failures within our fire department have given rise to concerns and calls for significant reforms,” he said in an interview late on Monday.

“We are on it and residents will witness marked quality improvement.”

“Following Sunday's unfortunate fire in Vhembe View, we held an emergency meeting and residents and investors will see tangible changes.”

Ramakgapola said the local authority had a duty to protect public and private property worth millions of dollars in the border town hence “the rescue section could not be caught napping.”

“We investigated our short-comings on Sunday and reflected on our poor previous performances which need vast improvement,” he said.

“All firefighters will undergo training almost immediately and we are fortunate some donors have come on board after learning of our plight.”

A thorough examination of the shortcomings revealed several key factors contributing to failures mainly inadequate training.

Lack of regular drills as well as lack of knowledge in handling the new fire tenders were seen as contributory factors.

“Moreover, ineffective communication systems and a lack of inter-departmental co-ordination worsened the situation, causing delays and confusion during emergencies. These failures highlighted the urgent need for change in our municipality's fire department,” he said.

“The failures within the fire department imposed significant consequences on both the community and the municipality.

“Lives are put at risk and property damage increased due to delayed response times and ineffective firefighting techniques.”

He said the resulting loss of public trust and confidence in the municipality’s ability to handle emergencies dented its credibility and spooked investors.

Ramakgapola said the overhaul of the fire department was expected to bring numerous benefits for the municipality and the residents.

“This should definitely result in a significant decrease in property damage and potential loss of life,” he said.

“The restoration of public trust and confidence in the municipality's emergency management capabilities bolsters community resilience. Of course  we have some challenges during this overhaul process but it is work to be done.”

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