While good news has been few and far between in 2020, the City of Cape Town shared this week that overall Fire and Rescue incidents have decreased year on year.

A definite downturn in incidents between April and May this year was noted by the Fire and Rescue Service, with a year-on-year drop of 13% recorded.

In the 2019/2020 financial year firefighters responded to 22 497 incidents compared to the 2018/2019 financial year, where they responded to 25 877.

Overall fires are down by 9.73%, vegetation fires have dropped by 11.93%, and formal residential fires also decreased by 13.99% this year.

According to Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, the lockdown definitely contributed towards the drop, especially for call outs that involved motor vehicle accidents or trauma.

“This period of course corresponded with the initial ban on alcohol and severely curtailed public movement. The decline in the number of incidents is good news, but that is cold comfort to those families who have lost loved ones as a result of fires,” said Smith in a statement.

While overall incidents decreased, the number of deaths increased from the previous year’s total of 113 to 170 this year.

“We have, in this year, had numerous incidents where fires were limited to single structures, but with multiple fatalities and we need to continue working on our fire safety efforts, in partnership with communities, as this requires a collective effort. An analysis of the causes of residential fires for the period April to June, indicated that electrical faults and open flames accounted for just over 45% of all incidents,” adds Smith.

Residents are being reminded that fire in the home is also a serious concern to be aware of.

“The dangers are apparent, and it is up to each and every one of us to ensure that our environment is as fireproof as possible. More so, vigilance is key, particularly while cooking or using heating devices. It is also imperative to check electrical connections regularly and not to overload sockets,” says Smith.

Smith also mentioned the increase in attacks on firefighters that took place in 2020 and urged members of the community to respect and support the men and women fighting for our safety.

“Fire safety is everyone’s business and key to that is ensuring the men and women who are trained to assist in your time of need are able to do their jobs without threat,” he concluded.

Picture: The City of Cape Town

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