Working on Fire (WoF) within the Western Cape, the national Department of Environmental Affairs’ programme to help fight veld and forest fires, has employed 160 and additional participants from previously disadvantaged communities who will now be trained to become professional veld and forest fire fighters.
Over the past few months, WoF Western Cape has rolled out a series of recruitment drives across the province to ensure that more opportunities are made available in various areas from Newlands in Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay in the Southern Cape.
“We had close to 1000 applicants who responded to the advertisement of employment, and only 160 were chosen,” says WC General Manager, Shane Christian.
These new recruits went through vigorous testing at recruitment sites as they had to complete a fitness test which includes a 2.4km run in under 12 minutes, 40 pushups, 8 pull ups, as well as an interview session.
“The objective of these recruitment’s is to ensure that work opportunities are made available within impoverished communities in the Western Cape,” says Christian.
All new recruits participated in the 25 day basic and advanced firefighting training at the Training Academy in Bloemfontein and are now qualified participants within the programme.
Working on Fire draws their fire fighters from the poorest of the poor. They go through extensive training, and are characterized by their fitness, discipline and exceptional work ethic and bravery. Many of these fire fighters who spend days and nights on end fighting these fires come from the impoverished communities on the Cape Flats and Khayalitsha.
Thanks to their employment in the Working on Fire programme as an extension of the Expanded Public Works programme of government they have been given a work opportunity to earn a living and to put food on the table.
Working on Fire is a national veld and forest fire fighting resource under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Affairs and it has close to 800 fire fighters based at 27 bases throughout the province. The programme provides veldfire suppression support to the provinces, Disaster Management Centres, Fire Protection Associations and landowners like South African National Parks.