Stellenbosch hosts IFFD commemoration in Western Cape
The Western Cape Province's IFFD event was held on the Braak in the CBD of the historic town of Stellenbosch on Saturday, 4 May 2019. More than 50 vehicles from various fire services throughout province partook in the motorcade that departed from Stellenbosch fire station and drove through Cloetesville and via the R310 to the Braak. The drill squad formed part of the motorcade in Bird Street as they made their way to the Braak. Two helicopters also rounded off the motorcade, with a fly by as the cavalry reached the Braak.
The programme commenced with the day appropriately opened by the Chaplain Daniel Solomon, who built his message around being anchored and used the texts of John 15v13, Isaiah43v3 and Psalms 91. The ceremony, presided by Heinrich Louw, was very touching and had many astounded by the professionalism and sincerity in which it was conducted.
Speeches were given by Stellenbosch’s chief fire officer, Wayne Smith and municipal manager Geraldine Mettler.
Chief Smith outlined the meaning of International Fire Fighters’ Day and said, “Today is a very special day because it is a day dedicated to fire fighters. Because when somebody cries out “somebody do something!” it’s usually directed at fire fighters. People generally run away from trouble and incidents and situations that might harm them but fire fighters are on the forefront when it comes to responding to almost all emergencies where they safe lives, rescue people and protect property.”
“What makes a fire fighter special?” he asked. “The answer is in the narrow definition of fire fighting. It is ultra-hazardous, unavoidable, dangerous activity ……..takes a special breed of men and women who puts themselves in harm’s way to protect another.”
“Fire fighters of Stellenbosch, the district and in the Province are facing the same challenges and fighting the same beast as fire fighters all over the world, the common enemy called fires. Amidst facing many challenges, our only aim is to effectively and successfully deal with an unwanted situation and return safely to base and home.”
More than 2 000 people were in attendance on a beautiful sunny day. Magic music radio station kept the crowd on their feet with upbeat music and announcements. It was a great day filled with reflection, fun and laughter. A day where old and the young in the fire fraternity could once again meet up and exchange ideas and pledge allegiance. The children were also rewarded with snack packs and lots to see and explore.
All in all it was a day of appreciation towards all for showing an interest in fire services. One of the highlights was undoubtedly the Cape Winelands and Stellenbosch squad drill lead by the master class drillmaster, Heinrich Louw, who had the crowds gasping for air as they executed to perfection. City of Cape Town and Overstrand combined a Rope Rescue Drill, while Cape Winelands and City of Cape Town Hazardous Materials Decontamination also performed a drill, as did VWS (Volunteer Wildfire Services) Wildland Fire Suppression and City of Cape Town, who performed a foam drill. Stellenbosch Fire and Rescue Fire gave a life safety presentation.
The team challenges were lively and were energetically cheered on by the supporters. The fire fighter team challenge consisted of teams of four fire fighters, who have to complete a set circuit with eight different stages.
Stage 1: Don PPE which included bunker gear and a SCBA set (members do not wear a mask and is not connected to the air supply.)
Stage 2: Carry a Stokes basket with an 85 kg manikin for 20 m around a marker and back.
Stage 3: In teams of two, hit the Keiser Force machine
Stage 4: Each member make up a 65m x 30m hose and deploy the hose
Stage 5: All four have to run through a tunnel
Stage 6: 20m tyre pull
Stage 7: Large tyre flip all 4 member
Stage 8: Charge 65mm hose drag
Garden Route District Municipality won the team challenge, while Overstrand Municipality's Fire Department came second and Overberg District Municipality came third.
Chief Smith says it was a privilege for Stellenbosch to play host to this prestigious event. “Thank you to the political and administrative leadership of Stellenbosch Municipality who were willing to, on short notice, to play host.A heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Heinrich Louw and the rest of the planning committee for making the event a success,” he said. He also thanked all chief fire officers for allowing their fire fighters and vehicles so partake in the event, as well as the Western Cape Provincial Government and the Cape Winelands District Municipality for their support. “Thank you for all who contributed in some or other way. As a fire fighter, this was undoubtedly one of my proudest moments,” concluded Chief Smith.
Garden Route District Municipality's (GRDM) said their fire fighters added another feather to their cap after winning the International Fire Fighters Day Challenge (IFFD). “The winning team has proved again that GRDM is home to the best fire fighters in South Africa. Congratulations to Edwin Lottering, Johnathan van Vuuren, Heinrich Leslie, Emile Conrad and Armien Bailey.”
The Cape Town Destroyers Team participated in the International Fire Fighters’ Day celebration in Stellenbosch by performing a vehicle extrication demonstration.
Overstrand Municipality said on their Facebook page, “A huge feather in the cap for Overstrand Municipality's Fire Department as it takes second place in the International Firefighters Day Competition in Stellenbosch. The Overstrand Firefighting team is well known for their outstanding performances in the competition. Team members Justin Brussel, Cecil Abrahamse, Shaun Mackey and Earl Galant as well as team leader Ebriam Isaacs, represented the Overstrand at the event, with the support of fire chief Lester Smith and Angelo Aplon and other colleagues from the Fire Department. We would like to congratulate all our brave fire fighters for their excellence and perseverance. Well done!”
George Municipality Fire Brigade also attended International Fire Fighters Day in Stellenbosch. Neels Barnard, George fire chief, who accompanied the team, said it was an amazing opportunity for the team with regards to fitness and teambuilding. He also congratulated the neighbouring Garden Route District Municipality for achieving great success in the event. The George team comprised Joseph Fortuin, Amos Ningi, Neels Barnard, Nico Rossouw, Hazel Mbane, Siya Mbobi and Bethwell Grootboom.
Some photos courtesy: Franna Smiley Lombard
Sources: Wayne Smith, Manager: Fire, Rescue and Disaster, Stellenbosch
IFFD in Stellenbosch video by Daniël Le Roux