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City hands out 1 000 safety kits in Zandspruit Print E-mail
02 June 2017
The City of Joburg is to distribute 1 000 Jozi safety kits across all informal settlements this winter as it steps up its efforts to prevent deadly fires in these communities.
This announcement was made by Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety Cllr Michael Sun at the launch of the City’s winter safety campaign, at Emthonjeni Community Centre at the Zandspruit informal settlement in Region C.
MMC Sun visited the area on Thursday, 1 June.
Every winter the City’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) spends hundreds of thousands of rands on safety measures, particularly in informal settlements to prevent fire incidents often caused by the unsafe use of sources of heat such as paraffin stoves as residents desperately try to keep warm.
The distribution of the Jozi safety kits – each of which consists of a bucket, para-safe stove, smoke alarm or detector, dressing bandage, one litre plastic container with a safety cap, home burn kit and solar lantern – is coupled with the training of Certified Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in fire fighting skills.
Crucially, the two-day training includes evacuation and fire extinguishing techniques.
Zandspruit is one of the highly congested informal settlements in Johannesburg and, therefore, susceptible to shack fires.
Last year the City’s EMS officers responded to a total of 790 fire incidents that claimed 23 lives. The number of fatalities in fire-related incidents 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 strategy, but City officials say the number of fatalities is still very high.
Speaking during the launch of this year's winter safety campaign, MMC Sun said safety should be part of residents’ everyday consideration and that the safety drive should not be treated as a once-off event.
MMC Sun told the community that prevention through education was one of the tools the City would use to empower residents to prevent fire incidents.
“The overwhelming scourge of domestic fires in informal settlements has propelled us to seek out other means to curb the unnecessary deaths. That is why we have embarked on continuing training campaigns before the winter season to educate community members on the basic firefighting and first aid skills," MMC Sun explained.
EMS Executive Director Tshepo Makola told the community that with the onset of winter, the community needed to be more vigilant. "Safety is a collective effort," Makola said, adding that most of the incidents that EMS responded to could have been prevented before they destroyed property and claimed lives.
“It is important that we train people and empower them to be able to fight fire,” he said.
Community members who received training said they would use the skills they gained to teach others on how to avoid fire incidents.
Roseline Chauke, who attended the launch, said she now felt empowered. Chauke said she would implement the tips she gained at the launch. “You know, we sometimes just ignore basics and hope that nothing will happen. I must admit, I have been negligent in my own home but thanks to this campaign I will do things differently,” she noted.
EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said: "We are beginning to see progress through this annual campaign.” 
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Last Updated on 06 June 2017