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EWN exclusive: 231 Joburg firefighters suspended

Eyewitness News is in possession of suspension letters listing the names of firefighters under investigation.

FILE: Firefighters begin clearing away equipment on 7 September 2018 following a deadly fire near the Lisbon Building. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News can this morning reveal that more than 230 Johannesburg firefighters have been suspended, putting further strain on already overstretched resources.

It’s understood that in July, the firefighters refused to attend to call outs, citing concerns over the non-assignment of supervisors.

The Joburg Emergency Services confirmed the suspensions but would not be drawn on the reasons.

Eyewitness News is in possession of suspension letters served on the firefighters from different stations across Johannesburg last week.

Those suspended account for more than 17% of the firefighter workforce in the metro.

They accuse Emergency Services Management of not adhering to the National Health Act.

Three employees spoke to Eyewitness News and said all they wanted was to get those in charge, to comply with law.

“We are not on strike, because all those days they say we were on strike we were on duty. We are abiding by the rules, but they take it the other way around saying we don’t want to work,” said one firefighter who asked not to be named.

Emergency Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi confirmed the suspensions but said they are dealing with the matter internally.

WATCH: Joburg firefighters forced to live in unsafe building; 231 of them are also suspended

According to the documents in EWN’s possession, 46 firefighters have been suspended from Ivory Park fire station.

The Jabulani station meanwhile has to function without 34 of its firefighters.

Firefighters say if there were to be a major disaster in the city, Emergency Services would find themselves in a crisis.

“The 200 that were suspended, some of their shift don’t even have one person [on duty],” said a firefighter who refused to be named.

His colleague was also concerned about those left to do all the work: “How are those firefighters going to feel? They will go from call to another call.”

Despite these concerns, Mulaudzi said there was no need for alarm.

“The suspensions is not going to anyway disrupt our service delivery to our communities. We’ve got capacity,” he said.

Unions Samwu and Demawusa are planning to challenge the suspensions.

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