Durban DC retires after 43 years of service
Divisional commander Owen Singh is retiring from eThekwini Fire and Emergency Services after a career spanning 43 years. Singh joined then Durban Fire Brigade in 1975 and has worked under seven chiefs over his career. He says his career has been an amazing adventure and that although he is leaving the service, it will always be a part of him. “I’m leaving but not abandoning my fire fighter family,” said Singh. “My door will always be open and wherever I can offer advice, I will do that. I plan to visit occasionally and add value.” The City of eThekwini’s chief fire officer, Enock Mchunu, said, “Division Commander Singh has been highly inspirational to all members within our service from entry to executive level. He will always be recognised for his service knowledge, kindness, direction, fatherliness, selflessness and commitment to the task, whilst not leaving others behind.”
“During his last month in service he contributed to the targeted development programme aimed at empowering young station commanders of a female gender, as a mentor, which was highly appreciated. Overall, DC Singh was a highly skilled and resourceful officer, leaving a living legacy of a well performing and respected brigade.
We salute him and wish him a very good, relaxed, well-earned retirement!”
When Singh joined the service, South Africa was still in the days of apartheid. He was among the first intake of Indian recruits to the Durban Fire Brigade. Further in his career, he was also the first to be promoted to station commander and then on to division commander. Singh left the municipal service to join the Ports Authority Fire Department in 1981 before returning to Durban Fire. His career has many highlights including ship fires, petrochemical fires and a memorable seaboard helicopter rescue of 64 people. Singh was also part of the team that fought the Transnet storage warehouse fire in south Durban in March 2017.
Singh has made his first name, Owen, into a mantra for life:
O – Ownership: problems or success, they are made by you
W – Willingness: take every opportunity to learn
E – Education: there is always something new to learn
N – Nature: we are all God’s creatures, be natural
Now that he’s retired, Singh doesn’t plan on taking it easy. He says he will spend time with family; he is fortunate to still have his mother, who teases him about his inability to cook! His brother lives in Australia, so Singh will be planning a trip to visit there too. “Part of my plan for the future is to travel to fire stations around the world to pay tribute to fallen fighters in far off places. Honour and duty comes above all and these men and women will always be my family,” said Singh.
A talented musician, Singh will be spending more time playing guitar and keyboard. He also keeps aquariums and birds, as he is a passionate animal lover. The thing that may keep him busier than anything else though, is an old VW Combi camper van that he has been putting off fixing up for some time now.
Singh says he owes gratitude to Providence. He says God entrusted him with huge responsibilities during his career and that the quality of people he has worked with, has been the best. Singh says that kindness is the most important ingredient for good relationships and he is grateful for all the great friendships and relationships he has had throughout his 43 year career.
A leaving party was held for Singh, attended by his colleagues and friends. Himanth Seeparsad paid tribute to Singh, “Wishing Mr Owen Singh a fantastic retirement on reaching this milestone of 43 years in the fire service. May this new chapter unfold with promises of good health, peace and lots of memories to cherish. All the very best to you.”
Source: Owen Singh, Durban Metro Fire, Pakade Enock Mchunu, Chief Fire Officer, eThekwini Municipality Fire and Emergency Services