Firefighters on their way to Canada to help with wildfire control after the country registered record high temperatures. Picture: Working on Fire
Firefighters on their way to Canada to help with wildfire control after the country registered record high temperatures. Picture: Working on Fire

Minimal staff at Cape fire stations because of disciplinary hearings

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Aug 12, 2021

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Cape Town - Fire stations across Cape Town have been working with minimal staff for the last month because 525 firefighters are facing disciplinary hearings and are not allowed to work overtime.

The firefighters are facing disciplinary hearings for refusing to “work as required”. Their letters of notice from the City stated that the workers allegedly committed wilful gross misconduct when, during the period between October 1 and 8, 2019, they participated in an unlawful strike by refusing to work according to the shift system.

SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) secretary Mike Khumalo said that of the 525, at least 439 accepted the bargaining plea, 30 individuals were still training at the time and did not want to take the bargaining offer and their case would continue today and tomorrow.

Khumalo said 50 people were regarded as ring leaders by the City and their cases would continue next month. He said three others had died due to Covid-19.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said disciplinary processes have been completed for some staff members. The outcome of the process was a matter between the employer and its employees.

Tyhalibongo said there had been no impact on fire stations because of the disciplinary process. However, like many other frontline services, the City’s Fire and Rescue Service had been dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on staff, in addition to other sick leave requests.

The 100 firefighters sent to Canada will help with wildfire control after the country registered record high temperatures. They are from Working on Fire.

Working on Fire spokesperson Linton Rensburg said 100 members of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment's WoF Fire Fighters and nine management members departed OR Tambo International Airport on a chartered BA flight to Winnipeg, via London, for a 34-day firefighting deployment to Canada.

Rensburg said those deployees, who had passed a transparent and rigorous selection process, had assembled six days ago in a marshalling camp, where they were subjected to a rigorous refresher assessment on their fitness, knowledge of Canadian equipment, map reading and fire safety.

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said the request for assistance came from the Canadian Inter-agency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) which has, in terms of a Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and South Africa, asked for firefighting assistance from WoF to assist with their fire management in Canada.

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