Cape Town’s seasonal fire fighting recruits get a taste of what’s to come
The City of Cape Town’s latest batch of seasonal fire fighters are being put through their paces, just weeks before they are set to be deployed in teams to various fire stations around the metropole to assist with the combatting of vegetation fires over the warmer months. Seasonal fire fighters were introduced as an The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in early 2009 to fund the appointment of 40 seasonal fire fighters. The programme has grown since then to more than 100 seasonals to increase resources and minimise the risk to lives and property, particularly where vegetation and mountain fires threaten the urban edge.
“Our city has very different fire fighting needs to many others, literally because of the lay of the land and the seasonal fire fighter concept has been an enormous help to overcome that challenge. They perform a vital role alongside our permanent staff to safeguard lives and property but their presence also means that we have more resources to deal with the other demands on the fire service, like residential fires and special service calls such as motor vehicle accidents. We are immensely grateful to the thousands of candidates who put up their hands every year to try out for the programme,” said the city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
On average, more than two-thirds of fires dealt with by the city’s Fire and Rescue Service each year are categorised as vegetation fires. Most of these occur over the warmer months from December to April.
The programme is very popular among would-be fire fighters, with stiff competition each year for the limited number of placements. In the 2019 recruitment drive:
• 1 632 candidates tried out for the physical fitness assessment
• 796 qualified to move onto the written assessment
• 249 were invited for one-on-on interviews
• The current batch of recruits was selected based on test scores and a vetting process including criminal checks
• 31 of those are returning seasonal staff
The training course started on Monday, 11 November 2019 with induction and orientation and the issuing of personal protective equipment.
All staff will undergo four weeks of theoretical, practical and physical training during the Basic Wildland Fire Fighting Course, under the supervision of 16 seasonal supervisors. The curriculum theoretical content covers everything from City protocols to fire behaviour and weather conditions, fire fighter safety and survival, the tools required for the job and fire suppression methods, among others.
The recruits must complete a theoretical and practical assessment before their training is considered complete and they are deployed.
“This is the final hurdle for our seasonals. They’ve already gone through a lot to get to this point and I encourage them to remain focused on the training at hand, so that they are able to realise their goal of being on the frontline. I also want to extend a special word of thanks to the Fire and Rescue Service staff who devote themselves to this programme each year, not only in the interest of public safety but also for the development of potential future fire fighters,” added Alderman Smith.
Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town