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Emergency services dangerously incapacitated

Jaws of Life failed at accident scene.

In a recent media report serious allegations were made regarding the state of affairs at Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (JEMS).

The allegations include the following:

• A third of JEMS’ fire trucks are not operational.

• Fire brigades are severely understaffed.

• Equipment is damaged or not working at all.

• At a recent accident scene the Jaws of Life failed.

• Firefighters are so scared of equipment malfunctioning that they fake smoke inhalation to avoid going into burning buildings.

• Management is incompetent and thereby risk fire fighters’ lives.

A firefighter at one of the Roodepoort stations (name and name of station withheld to protect his/her identity) confirmed that there is indeed a crisis within the JEMS. He/ she told the record that the appointment of new firefighters unfortunately is based on quantity and not quality. At the specific station only one truck was operational an he/ she confirmed that equipment was in a state of ill repair.

Robert Mulaudzi, JEMS spokesperson on the other hand said that he wanted to reassure the residents of Johannesburg that JEMS is indeed capable of rendering effective and professional services to the public.

He said that the allegations were unfounded citing the recent fire in a 30-storey building in Johannesburg as an example.

“We saved two people’s lives and would not have been able to manage that situation if these allegations were true,” says Mulaudzi.

“We also have appointed 60 new firefighters to make up for those who recently left for greener pastures. Unfortunately that happens in any company and we have no control over people resigning and moving on.

“We admit that our equipment does get old and break down but it has to be kept in mind that the equipment is used 365 days a year. Therefore we recently have spent R1 million on new equipment. We also are purchasing R50 million worth of additional specialised vehicles of which the first delivery will be within the next six months,” says Mulaudzi.

“As the community expands we also expand. A new fire brigade was established in Protea Glen to service that growing community’s needs and another one is planned for Cosmo City.

“Finally another fact that attests to our capabilities is the invitations we recently received to assist in Nigeria and the Phillipines after the earthquakes. We are held in high regard by these emergency service fraternities and again they would not have asked for our help if we were not capable,” concluded Mulaudzi.

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