Provincial secretary of the SA Municipal Workers Union in the Western Cape, Sidney Flusk raised concerns about the workload that firefighters in the Western Cape are subjected to.
According to Flusk, the fact that the Fire Service Agreement with the CoCT lapsed in 2012 has meant members are being subjected to horrific working conditions.
He says this has resulted in a rise in vacancies from 380 (in 2012) to the current level of 1200, which means members work in excess of 240 hours a month leading to firefighters collapsing on the job.
Richard Bosman, Executive director of safety and security at the City of Cape Town rubbished all these claims saying there is no truth in what Flusk is saying.
I want to unequivocally say that there are no thousand vacancies in the fire department and this is in our report which is publicly available.— Richard Bosman, Executive director of safety and security at City of Cape Town
Bosman says fireman work 56 hours a week and for that, they get a 22.8% allowance over and above their salaries.
He says the allowance is paid to them whether they work 24 hrs or not.
When they are at the station for that 24-hour shift, they don't work for 24 hours. They work from 9 - 5 and they stop and after 5 pm they are on standby at the station. They have TV and cooking facilities and they only respond to emergencies, they are not actively firefighting for 24 hours. That is actually impossible, nobody can do that.— Richard Bosman, Executive director of safety and security at City of Cape Town
To hear the rest of the conversation with Richard Bosman, listen below: