Bright Eyes Burning

Youths and pros. Photos: Marnette Meyer

Youths and pros. Photos: Marnette Meyer

The fire engine’s siren rang out repeatedly on Sunday morning. But for once the 14-tonner was not on a firefighting mission. The truck and firefighting equipment were being demonstrated to members of the NSRI Station 18 Junior Academy who had congregated at the fire station. And for once it was a case of bright eyes burning, and nothing else.

Commander Ronnie Goltz assists the firefighter.

Commander Ronnie Goltz assists the firefighter.

Fighting fire
Not everyone has the mettle to become a firefighter. Platoon Commander Ronnie Golts explained that prospective firemen have to be both mentally and physically fit, and not prone to a fear of heights or claustrophobia. Having passed these assessments as well as a 10 month long training course in Epping, the firemen are deployed at one of the city’s 32 fire stations; where they work 24 hour shifts.

A concerned voice asked, “Do they have off after their shift?” “They are off for 48 hours afterwards,” Holtz answered with a smile. Shifts can include anything from a morning parade to cleaning the cavernous fire station to fighting fires with water, foam or sand. Men and women do the same tasks. Worthwhile nugget of info: The response time to a call is 90 seconds in the day and 3 minutes at night. You try and top that.

Tough dame
Bianca Koopman, one of two women attached to Melkbosstrand’s firestation, showed off the firefighting equipment which is kept inside the fire truck. Spades, rakes, ladders, a long handled axe that looksas if it could have come from a battle scene in Braveheart. These items look timeless and as if they had been picked up at the local hardware store. The thermal imagining camera, however, is state of the art; it is used to locate fires and humans inside buildings.

A spin inside the big red truck followed for the young NSRI members. Firefighter and pump operator Eugene Willemse steered the truck with much aplomb, and rang the bell. “Don’t you wish you had this opportunity when you were a child?” a beaming parent asked as this was going on.

The real highlight of the morning was when the youngsters were allowed to handle the fire hose, and point the powerful jet of water. Things could have gone awry here. It can be reported however that no passer-by were soaked in the process. Instead, some fynbos got an unexpected shower…



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