For firefighters, immediate access to a reliable water supply is crucial to successfully fighting fires and preventing loss of life and damage to property.
To enable this, Hollard Insure is partnering with the Kouga Local Municipality to pilot an initiative to inspect all the fire hydrants in the municipality.
This initiative was launched on 21 September and will run until mid-December 2020.
South Africa is seeing an increase in economic, human and environmental losses due to fires. There are various factors that pose a challenge to the efforts of municipal fire services to prevent and combat fires. These include a lack of adequate investment in fire services as a result of competition for scarce government resources and a lack of coordination between various bodies responsible for fire prevention.
In this context, the Department of Cooperative Governance has requested improved coordination between these bodies to enable fire services to be more proactive in their approach to fire prevention and safety.
“We recognise that the country faces a complex fire problem that the government cannot address alone. We need public-private partnerships like this to optimise efforts of fire services, thereby significantly helping to reduce fire risks and losses,” says Dr Moses Khangale, Head of Fire Services at the National Disaster Management Centre.
“As an insurer, managing fire risk is obviously part of our business. But this is not just about the bottom line for us. We responded to the call for such a public-private partnership because we’re also committed to enabling better futures for the people in our communities, whether they are our customers or not,” says Tafadzwa Samushonga, from Hollard Insure.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated South Africa’s job crisis. As part of Hollard’s goal to enable better futures, the initiative is also creating temporary employment for unemployed local youth. Nine young people have been recruited and are currently receiving training to perform the work required.
This will include locating fire hydrants and recording their GPS coordinates; identifying the categories of the hydrants; cleaning, marking and painting the hydrants; and testing water pressure.
All level 1 lockdown regulations, including social distancing, are being adhered to and the temporary staff have been supplied with the necessary personal protective equipment, including face masks and sanitiser, to ensure their safety and that of the community.
An added advantage of the initiative is that it will produce reliable data for the Water Services Department on areas requiring intervention, as all faults will be referred to this department.
“Fires naturally have a significant impact on our communities,” says Dewald Barnard, Kouga municipality Chief Fire Officer. “We’re keen to establish the feasibility of this initiative, and to see the implementation of a programme that will mark a big step towards improving the effectiveness of our fire services.”
Considering the economic and social pressures that communities are facing in these challenging times, the last thing they need is further loss or hardship as a result of fires.
Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks has thanked Hollard Insure for partnering with the municipality to keep its communities safe.“This is a big step in the right direction,” he says.