It is always great to talk to Fire Fighters and Fire Officers, no matter where in the world I find myself. It was one of the tremendous highlights from my recent trip to South Africa.
Thanks to the fire fighters of Johannesburg and Durban for sharing keen insights into their departments and operations. It was a great exchange. There are so many similarities to Fire Fighters and Fire Stations all over the world that they are too numerous to mention (including the mop bucket, lol).
Got to see their equipment and discuss issues. Many of the same things that we struggle with in the USA are there as well. Pre- and Post- Apartheid Firefighter selection, staffing and training mirror some of the departments in the USA. I say that in terms of our own attempts at equal opportunity employment, post the Civil Rights era. A different scale and yet the same issues. We were able to discuss Officer selection and development; strategies and tactics; the attitude of the population, as it relates to Public Safety; and the future of department goals and objectives.
I felt right at home with this Pierce Attack Pumper, until I climbed into the cab and realized that the steering wheel was on the “wrong side” and that I had to do my pump calculations in the metric system. The “Rule of Thumb” still applies. It was nice to tour the city in the Operations Vehicle (equivalent to my Battalion Chief’s SUV, at home). The only difference is that theirs is a Mercedes SUV. It was then on to one of the Ladder Trucks.
The equipment was great to review and compare, yet we all agreed that the equipment is nothing and ineffective without proper human resource management.
I want to thank Thato and Trevor for a great time with the South African Fire and Emergency Services Division. Stay safe and hope to chat again soon.
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