Emergency Management ServicesPrintE-mail
10 May 2007



The EMS has five directorates:

  • Operations deals with the response to a wide range of incidents, such as fire, medical, rescue, water rescue and hazardous materials disasters. Employees are called FF/EMTs (firefighters and emergency medical technicians) as they fight fires and operate ambulances. Some are specially trained to cope with hazardous materials. Operations is also responsible for the Control Centre, which receives calls about disasters and dispatches emergency services.
  • Disaster management and pier (public information, education and relations) deals with disaster planning and mitigation. It needs to ensure that every disaster is anticipated and that there are plans in place to deal with any eventuality. When a disaster happens, this directorate responds. It runs the Disaster Management Centre according to the Disaster Management Act. The pier division takes care of public information and education in a bid to prevent or minimise incidents.
  • Proactive services and fire safety focuses on preventing fires. It focuses on code application, code enforcement and events management, among other aspects. Its main business is ensuring that buildings, building plans, transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) and events comply with fire safety laws.
  • Corporate services and academy supports the EMS with a wide range of services, including training, fleet management, human resources, finance, administrative services and mess. Some of its key programmes are the chaplaincy service and employee assistance programmes.
  • Management support focuses on communications and marketing, quality assurance and research, transformation and employment equity, and special projects. Departmental planning, such as sector planning, business plans and scorecards, falls under this directorate. It also deals with organisational research, processes, capacity building, performance management, support, monitoring and reviews.

There are a number of laws and policies that govern the core functions of the EMS: the Disaster Management Act, the Municipal Systems Act, the Gauteng Ambulance Services Act, the Fire Brigade Act, the Health Services Act, the Road Traffic Act, the Veld and Forest Fire Act and the Communication Act.



Operations directorate (reactive incident management)

Operations is one of the core departments in the EMS. It deals with the saving of lives and property once disasters or accidents have happened. Some of the critical components in this directorate are emergency medical services (ambulances and paramedics), firefighting and rescue programmes.

All employees are trained in medical and fire services. They also operate various fire appliances and ambulances.

What is a paramedic?

Johannesburg's EMS has three levels of emergency practitioners - basic, intermediate and advanced life support. Only the advanced life support practitioners are allowed to refer to themselves as paramedics.

On the first level, practitioners (rendering basic life support) are called emergency medical technicians (EMTs). They are trained to a standard well above that of first aid practitioners and save many lives every year by applying basic life-saving skills like CPR and airway maintenance that are needed in most emergencies.

On the second level, emergency practitioners (rendering intermediate life support) are also called EMTs. These individuals are allowed to perform electrical defibrillation using ECG monitoring equipment and may set up intravenous pipes, and so on.

True paramedics render advanced life support. They are qualified to administer certain intravenous drugs and other advanced life-saving procedures.

Emergency medical services (ambulances)


Emergency medical services provides life support from a basic to advanced level throughout the city. Ambulances are manned by fire fighters/emergency medical technicians trained in basic or intermediate life support, while response cars are manned by advanced life-support paramedics. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics working in Johannesburg are among the most experienced emergency medical practitioners in the world as crews are constantly exposed to all forms of medical and traumatic emergencies.



Fire fighting

Firefighting is one of the fire fighters/emergency medical technicians' key functions. It is a technical skill and can be a very dangerous activity. Old and unstable buildings, new and hastily built constructions and synthetic materials and chemicals all pose dangers to the firefighter.

This division has a large range of specialised vehicles and equipment to ensure rapid response to emergencies to provide an efficient firefighting service.


This function is usually performed by the same fire fighters/emergency medical technicians responsible for firefighting.

They respond in fire engines or rescue vehicles specially equipped to deal with most forms of technical rescues, such as rescues from cars and trucks after accidents, hazardous materials incidents, trench collapses, building collapses, confined space rescues, high angle rescues, swift water rescues and emergency scuba diving.

Other special services include lift rescues and getting people and animals out of life-threatening situations.



Command and control centre

The Control Centre is the EMS’s nerve centre. It is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached on 10177.

The Control Centre takes calls related to all emergencies for which the City renders a service.  These include medical emergencies, fires, disasters and hazardous materials spills.

The EMS has 36 dispatchers working in four-hour shifts. Calls are categorised and dispatched to the relevant departments as follows:

  • P1 – critical medical cases (life threatening);
  • P2 – medical condition serious but stable;
  • P3 – any medical condition that is not life-threatening, support may be given over the phone; and
  • P4 – dead person before the arrival of emergency services or on route to medical care facility.





Rapulane Monageng: Director of Operations
Tel: 011 758 9525/6

Disaster Management and PIER Directorate

This directorate has two main divisions, pier and disaster management.

Public Information, Education and Relations (PIER)

Rather than wait for disasters to strike, PIER focuses on pre-incident training and preparedness geared towards training the public to avoid all types of emergencies and disasters, and cope with them when they happen.

The division also aims to minimise the amount of risk factors and situations to which people may be exposed by creating safer living and working environments. PIER is also responsible for keeping the City informed of the EMS’s activities. It has established strategically placed Be Safe Centres to enable communities to get and receive the information they need.



Disaster management

The objective of the disaster management division is to minimise loss of life, injury and loss or damage to property, and to restore essential services as quickly as possible by means of an integrated disaster management approach.

For functional purposes, the division has divided Johannesburg into southern and northern segments, and an operations manager has been assigned to monitor the two areas.

Following a shift from a primarily reactive to a more proactive approach, a five-phase disaster management programme has been designed to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from the effects of all disasters.

The programme involves institutional capacity, risk assessment, risk reduction, response and relief. Disaster management is a co-ordination function whereby personnel has to ensure that departments have contingency plans and are ready to respond to any hazards that happen in their departments.

There are guidelines that must be followed when plans are drawn up, which are available from the division.




William Mazibuko: director of Disaster Management and PIER
Tel: 011 758 9523

Disaster Management Centre number for all disaster related enquiries from monday to friday during office hours which is 011 286 6012/13



Proactive Services Directorate (Investigations, Code Application and Code Enforcement)

The directorate focuses on fire safety, looking at code application, code enforcement and events management, among others.

Its core business is being the custodian of safety standards to ensure that fire risks are managed proactively when hazmat (hazardous material) is transported, events are hosted, buildings are erected or renovated and flammable liquids are stored.

It ensures that buildings comply with the National Building Regulations set out in the SABS 0400 1987. It also informs and advises occupants about safety precautions and storing flammable liquids and gas. It deals with both business and private premises. Where necessary punitive measures are taken if there is a gross non-compliance or repeat non-compliance. Working with other City departments, this directorate plays a critical role in Joburg’s inner city initiatives.

Joburg’s rapid expansion has led to an increase in the number of fire-related emergencies because of poor adherence to fire safety precautions and fire code applications by the building industry. This has led to increased fire risks - and, as a result, the EMS has set up preventative fire safety programmes.


Its functions include:
  • The application and enforcement of municipal by-laws and other safety legislation relating to fire by means of the routine inspection of buildings and fire plans;
  • Ensuring the implementation of sound fire engineering principles and practices by liaising with the public, consultants, architects and a wide range of technical committees and professional bodies;
  • The prevention of uncontrolled fires through lectures and film shows to the public;
  • In the event of a fire, ensuring its intensity and duration is limited by empowering the public to handle such an emergency;
  • Determining the cause of a fire and using the information gathered to inform awareness campaigns, including legislative compliance; and
  • Management of fire works storage, transportation and display in public places.



Dennis Konqobe: Director of Proactive Services
Tel: 011 758 9533



Corporate Services and Academy Directorate

Corporate services renders an all-important support function to the other EMS directorates, making it possible for each directorate to perform its life-saving role.

Training academy

Firefighters and emergency medical technicians (FF/EMTs) are trained in-house at the EMS’s academy in Brixton, Rietfontein and Florida Park.

The academy is accredited national and internationally, and internationally accredited instructors conduct most levels of training.

There is also career-oriented training for existing staff and new recruits as well for private individuals who want to be trained as firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Ongoing classroom and on-the-job training is provided to ensure the highest level of competence in the use of expensive, state-of-the-art and sophisticated equipment, the aim being to optimise manpower and resources.



Human resources

Personnel services works behind the scenes managing the human resources aspect of the EMS.


This department provides financial support services to EMS divisions and departments, such as accounting, budgeting, revenue collection, credit control, procurement, internal control, and financial monitoring and control.




Vicky Manyathi: Executive Head, Management Support and Shared Services - Public Safety Department
Tel: 011 758 9537
Fax: 011 758 9537



Management Support Directorate

Among the critical aspects in this directorate are communications and marketing, quality assurance and research, transformation and employment equity, and special projects.

Some of the work it does is departmental planning; for example, sector planning, business plans and scorecards. It also deals with organisational research, processes, capacity building, performance management, support, monitoring and review.

Communications and marketing

Communications and marketing deals with internal communication in the organisation. In line with City processes and protocols, it also deals with external communication to ensure the good image of the department. Another responsibility is establishing its branding policy.

Quality assurance and research

The ISO 9000 programme was adopted to ensure the customer gets the best service. The quality assurance division is responsible for implementing this programme and ensuring that all the necessary implementation, support and monitoring plans are in place. It also ensures that implementation is reviewed at the end of the programme.

Transformation and employment equity

To ensure that the department complies with the necessary transformation imperatives, the transformation and employment equity division looks at broader equity and the necessary interventions to ensure that the organisation is transformed.

Special projects

This division deals with all the organisational planning processes, like public safety sector plans, business plans and performance management. It also handles aspects like audits, process reviews and support programmes.




Nikitha Gcanga: 
Tel: 011 758 9545