Man dies while refilling fire extinguisher in Mbombela

The identity of the man killed in the freak accident has finally been revealed.

Bayteck Fire Nelspruit technician Sibusiso Malaza tragically lost his life when he was in the process of refilling a fire extinguisher on September 19.

Mbombela Fire & Rescue explained the extinguisher exploded and that the cause of the explosion is still unknown.

The manager of Bayteck Fire Nelspruit, Shaun Kleyn, said an investigation into the matter was launched and is still ongoing. He said the Department of Labour was contacted immediately after the incident and the Nelspruit SAPS was also on the scene.

Captain Zandile Gqawa, the spokesperson for the Nelspruit SAPS, confirmed the incident.

Kleyn said Malaza was accredited by the South African Qualification and Certification Committee (SAQCC). “It is tragic what happened. We are very sad about it,” said Kleyn, who did want to comment any further until the company had come into contact with Malaza’s family.

Thato Mokoena, who said he had worked with Malaza for two years, said: “He was a good, down-to-earth guy. He was always smiling and loved his family and friends. He will surely be missed.”

Sibusiso Malaza.

Lowvelder approached Tim de Bruyn, the managing director of Alute SA, who explained some regulations, what the process of refilling a fire extinguisher is, and the dangers involved when it is not done correctly. Alute SA provides training and consulting as well as supply and maintenance services in the fields of security, fire, health and safety.

“Fire extinguishers are pressure vessels and as such, they are subject to stringent legislated manufacturing, maintenance and test requirements, during manufacture as well as throughout its lifespan,” said De Bruyn.

“It is highly unlikely that a fire extinguisher will rupture and explode if it is maintained in the proper manner, even if (contrary to popular belief) the extinguisher is subject to elevated temperatures, which can increase the internal pressure of the vessel. This is due to the safety devices fitted to all approved fire extinguishers that will activate and depressurise the vessel safely before reaching burst pressure.”

De Bruyn said fire extinguishers must be maintained by a technician registered by the SAQCC and must be in the employ of a company accredited in terms of the South African National Standard 1475.

The SAQCC-registered technician is trained by accredited training institutions such as Alute SA and must complete at least six months’ training under a registered technician. Only then, if they meet all requirements and they receive their SAQCC registration card, can they conduct maintenance on a fire extinguisher.

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