I have noted recent concern from residents regarding the shortage of fire engines in the City of Johannesburg.
I must emphasise from the outset that the safety of our residents remains a primary concern for the multi-party government. Indeed, when we took office in 2016, I made it a top priority to ensure that our aged red fleet, including many broken down fire engines, were repaired and returned to operations.
This involved oversight visits by the MMC of Safety, Cllr Michael Sun to workshop floor and pushing service providers to meet deadlines.
We were successful at the time and managed to put 29 fire engines back into service with the City’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) team.
However, due to the age and conditions of our inherited fire engine fleet, the vehicles remained prone to break down. Taking into account maintenance and service schedules, the City currently has 7 operational fire engines with 5 more expected back within the coming week following repairs.
These are strategically deployed across the six districts in the City. In the event any fire station did not have an available fire engine for whatever reason, that fire station will be supported by the next available fire station and engine. I have requested a full investigation into the state of disrepair in the fire engine fleet as well as suspected sabotage.
The City has embarked on a process to procure additional fire engines a number of years ago. When the multi-party government took office in 2016, we inherited a contract originally signed in 2015. In terms of this contract, the City was scheduled to receive 29 new fire engines.
Regrettably, it was subsequently discovered that their appointment was tainted with allegations of fraud and corruption and that the tender was awarded on the basis of forged Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC) documents. Indeed, it is this same contract, entered into by the previous administration, which the President announced a Special Investigation Unit investigation into.
As a result of the supplier not able to meet its contractual obligations as a result of it going into business rescue, and given the fraudulent tender process, the City was left with no option but to cancel the R161 million contract for the provision of fire engines.
Before the supply contract was formally terminated, we managed to salvage five new and two newly refurbished fire engines from the supplier by strictly adhering to supply chain regulations. The City took delivery of these last year.
Following the termination of the previous contract the City initiated a new procurement process, or Fire Engine Replacement Program (FERP). Despite an initial setback in this process, with a preferred supplier withdrawing from the tender process, the FERP is currently in the process of being finalised and is expected to be concluded in the coming days.
This will allow the City to place an order for 92 additional EMS vehicles, including fire and rescue vehicles, delivery of which will commence in the coming weeks.
This will be an unprecedented acquisition of fire engines for a municipality. This will result in the 30 fire stations in the City each receiving a new fire engine. Until these new vehicles are delivered, we will continue to ensure that the ones in workshops are repaired and returned to operation.
We also want to urge our residents to call the correct number when reporting fire or other emergencies as it will help us to despatch the correct resources as quickly as possible.
Here are some important tips;
1. DO NOT call the fire stations but call the Call Centre on 011 375 5911 or 10177. The call centre will know and be able to despatch the available emergency vehicle.
2. Posting an emergency on social media will not assist us to know or locate the emergencies, please ensure that actual call is made to the call centre and reference number obtained.
3. Remain calm and assist our fire fighters with the location of the nearest fire hydrants.
4. Ensure that our fire fighters and emergency personnel have a safe and clear space to carry out their functions.
We remain committed to ensuring our residents are served by a dedicated team of EMS officers. The City took delivery of 42 ambulances as recently as last week as part of our continued efforts to capacitate our EMS department.
We want to re-assure our residents that we will not leave our residents behind and are doing our best to ensure that we overcome this challenge together.
Cllr Herman Mashaba
City of Joburg
Director: Mayoral Communications
Office of the Executive Mayor
Cell: 076 171 5978