'Jhb firefighters work in a culture of fear'

A group of firefighters say they don’t have vital equipment like hoses and face masks.

FILE: Johannesburg firefighters say they don’t have vital equipment like hoses and face masks. Picture: Jacob Moshokoa/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - In the latest developments in the Eyewitness News special report on the conditions at Johannesburg fire stations, at least 50 firefighters have spoken out at a bargaining council meeting today, saying they are working in appalling conditions and have had enough.

Earlier, Johannesburg emergency management services operations director Mhlengi Makhubalo denied claims by seven firefighters that they were forced to tackle blazes without vital equipment and that they worked in a culture of fear.

Now firefighters have made an application to the bargaining council, requesting that management address what they call gross contraventions of the employment act.

The Johannesburg firefighters say they don't have vital equipment like hoses and face masks.

They also claim that working toilets are a rare luxury at local fire stations.

Representing at least 50 firefighters, Dan Motsoeneng says he doesn't trust the equipment they do have in emergencies.

"Those equipment are very much ineffective. You go to an accident scene, you try to operate it and 99 percent of the time it will not operate."

The group has also raised issues over shifts, saying they are understaffed and are not compensated for long overtime hours.

Motsoeneng says despite this they continue to risk their lives.

"The recipients of our service, who happens to be the communities, they're the ones who are going to actually bear the brunt of our anger and frustration."

The firefighters say they cannot continue to work like this and have decided to take matters into their own hands by representing themselves at a bargaining council.