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City goes on a major drive to curb deadly winter fires Print E-mail
10 May 2017

The City of Johannesburg’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) is to embark on a series of winter fire safety campaigns in a concerted effort to prevent fatalities and injuries – particularly in the city’s189 informal settlements – as the winter cold sets in.

Last year, EMS officers responded to a total of 790 fire incidents that claimed the lives of 23 people. The number of fatalities in fire-related incidents that took place in 2016 represents a significant decline compared with the 32 people who died in similar circumstances the previous year.

The drop has been largely attributed to the City’s winter fire safety efforts. But EMS Executive Director Tshepo Makola says this is no cause for celebration as the number is still extremely and unacceptably high. He says the City will not rest until the figure has been brought down to zero.

In its continued attempt to eliminate accidental fires and deaths, EMS will in June and July this year distribute Jozi Safety Kits to about 1 000 households in informal settlements such as Diepsloot Extension 1 in Region A, Slovoville in Region B, Roodepoort Rugby Club in Region C, Protea South in Region D, Alexandra in Region E, Roseacres in Region F and Orange Farm in Region G.

The Jozi Safety Kit consists of para-safe stove that extinguishes itself in the event of excessive movement, a smoke detector that serves as an early warning system, a burn kit to treat minor burns, a lantern and a 25l bucket that can be used to store water and as a fire extinguishing agent.

Makola says since the introduction of the kit there has been a 50% reduction in the number of fire incidents and fatalities in the city’s informal settlements. He says most fires are preventable. All people need to do, he says, is to use proper cooking and lighting appliances and know how to identify the risks in their households and remove them.

“It’s worrisome that in most fire incidents young children are left alone at home to look after their younger siblings and are also given the responsibility to cook for themselves, which makes them vulnerable to these fire incidents,” says Makola.

He says the fires that are difficult to prevent are those sparked by problems related to love triangles, which often end up setting the whole settlement alight. He urges residents to be mindful of their surroundings and ensure the safety of their loved ones.

EMS officers will also go on door-to-door campaigns to educate residents on how they can prevent fire incidents and fatalities caused by the unsafe use of heating and lighting appliances such as paraffin stoves, heaters and braziers as well as candles.

To remain safe this winter, residents have been urged to take the following precautions:

 Ensure lighting and heating appliances they use are regulated by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications;

 Place candles on proper candle safety jars to prevent them from falling over;

 Refrain from using open fires for cooking in confined spaces with highly flammable materials, for example braziers; and

 Refrain from connecting electricity illegally.

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Last Updated on 10 May 2017