Parly automated fire doors already open when fire started, CoCT report reveals

Cape Town MMC for Safety and Security JP Smith said that there were a number of reasons why the doors were not properly closed.

Parts of the parliament precinct in Cape Town were left gutted after a fire on 2 January 2022. Picture: JP Smith/City of Cape Town

JOHANNESBURG - A report by the City of Cape Town has revealed that the automated fire doors in Parliament were already open when the fire started, making it impossible to contain.

The fire was reported in the parliamentary precinct in the early hours of Sunday morning, causing extensive damage to parts of the property, including the National Assembly.

Forty-nine-year-old Zandile Mafe has been arrested and charged for arson.

Speaking to CapeTalks's John Maytham, Cape Town MMC for Safety and Security JP Smith said that there were a number of reasons why the doors were not properly closed.

"The fire doors are in passages and corridors where presumably people need to pass through and so instead of having to difficulty in opening or closing those, some of them were simply latched and that meant that when the fire came they didn't do their job of denying the fire access to further areas and there's a lot of fuel load in those halls, buildings and rooms, a lot of wood paneling and thick carpets... otherwise, lots of things that could burn," Smith said.

Smith said that a lot was wrong with the fire security system.

"It did have a bit of a perfect storm with the sprinkler not doing what it should. The fire detection alarms being connected to a central board so that potentially when one in the old Assembly building did go off it didn't register it anywhere, it's only when the smoke penetrated some of the buildings that two fire alarms that were connected and that were working that the fire alarm sounded. So when we said that the fire alarm sounded some 20 minutes after the staff were already there, that was an alarm in a different building."