News / South Africa

Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
2 minute read
29 Sep 2021
6:30 am

Centurion woman asked for billing address after reporting fire

Marizka Coetzer

Centurion resident was threatened with being billed after reporting a veld fire to the local authorities last weekend.

Working on Fire has so far dispatched at least 150 firefighters, two helicopters and one spotter plane. Picture: Facebook

Centurion resident was threatened with being billed after reporting a veld fire to the local authorities last weekend.

Tracy Kensey, who lives in Mnandi agricultural holdings, said she was gobsmacked on Sunday following what she claimed was ill-treatment at the hands of the firefighters who responded.

“At 9.53am, I called the Centurion fire department on behalf of a resident who reported the fire on a vacant piece of the veld on the corner of Boundary Road and the R114, Mnandi,” Kensey said.

The fire was reported on a community WhatsApp group and she decided to alert the fire department.

She said when she made a follow-up call to the call centre, the operator was surprised they were still awaiting a fire truck and transferred her call to the driver’s mobile number.

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“The driver was extremely rude from the onset. He said he considered it a burnt-out fire. I told him I had a witness next to me to verify the size of the flames,” she said.

The firefighter then asked for her physical address so he could bill her directly for the call.

“He said there was no need for them to come out to this fire,” she said.

An hour later, Kensey received another call from the firefighter, who again demanded her physical address to bill her for the call-out.

“I refused to provide my address. I was horrified, and so angry that I nearly burst out in tears. If we cannot rely on them and we cannot rely on water to put out the fire ourselves, who do we call for help?”

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Kensey said the area had been without water for 10 days. She added her house had burned down two years ago and there was no water at the time.

“When the fire truck refused to come unless they had my number, I was angry, I was near tears.

Then I said don’t come, I wasn’t going to fork out for that.”

She said it looked as though the firefighters were taking down her vehicle’s registration number.

“How do we know when a fire is big enough to report?” she asked.

She said the fire from the weekend was still smouldering. Tshwane Emergency Services spokesperson Charles Mabaso said an investigation would be carried out.

marizkac@citizen.co.za