On Friday, 12 February 2021, Overstrand’s Fire and Disaster Management received keys for three new fire vehicles at a ceremony held at the new Fire Station in Mussel Street, Hermanus. Among the dignitaries attending, were the Executive Mayor of the Overstrand Municipality, Ald Dudley Coetzee, Overstrand Municipal Manager, Dean O’Neill, Councillors, Provincial Disaster Services officials as well as Overberg and Overstrand fire fighters.
The event was opened with a word of welcome by the Municipal Manager, Dean O’Neill. He expressed appreciation and highlighted that “the vehicles received today, will increase the services rendered in the communities and will be helpful, to speed up service delivery in our communities”.
At the start of the event, officials who lost their lives in line of duty were remembered. Chaplain Mark Robson prayed for all families and for all fire fighters affected and thereafter read a piece while everyone was requested to stand.
He then gave feedback on the three fire fighters who got injured on duty, “two of them have been discharged and one is still in hospital and is progressing well”.
Thereafter Mayor Coetzee, expressed his appreciation for the dedicated work done by our fire fighters under difficult and dangerous conditions. He stated that firefighting is the mandate of the Overberg District Municipality. “We are always appreciative and grateful to the Provincial Government for the funding of firefighting vehicles and specialised equipment provided to the Overstrand Municipality, particularly as firefighting is an unfunded mandate in Local Government. Consequently, Overstrand Municipality is not always in a financial position to allocate funding for firefighting vehicles and equipment. The three vehicles taken into service today will assist in providing an improved firefighting capability”. In conclusion the Mayor extended his heartfelt thanks to all fire fighters and related personnel for their dedication and the service rendered to our communities.
The Provincial Disaster Management Assistant Director, Marlu Rust, followed with an overview of the involvement of the Provincial Disaster Management, this is what he said: “The Western Cape Department of Local Government through the chief Directorate Disaster Management and Fire & Rescue Services, aim to improve fire service delivery throughout the Western Cape”.
“Since 2016 we have invested just over R57 million in the Western Cape fire services for the department and maintenance of firefighting capacity throughout the Province. The contribution made over the past years signifies the commitment of the department towards establishing every single municipality in the Western Cape the ability to render a basic firefighting service as contemplated in the legislation.
“Municipal capacity grant funding creates the foundation on which the current and future fire chiefs can build healthy and well-developed fire brigades.”
“Over a period of 2 years just over R6m was invested in the Overstrand municipality fire services through the municipal capacity grant funding program. R5m was allocated in 2019/2020 financial year for losses, damages and cost incurred at the Betty’s Bay fire. In addition, and in collaboration with the Overberg District Fire services, Greater Overberg FPA and Overstrand Fire & Rescue Services, we also initiated a pre-fire plan in the Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay area - a concept used by Californian Fire in the United states; first of its kind in the Western Cape”.
Rust continued by saying “This financial year 2020/2021 another R732 000 was also allocated to Overstrand Municipality for further development”. Lastly, the assistant director acknowledged that, over the few years, Overstrand Fire Services showed tremendous growth and development. He congratulated management on procuring some new vehicles. In his closing, he said, “fire fighters, please stay safe, use your vehicles and equipment diligently”.
Senior Manager of Fire and Rescue, Disaster Management and Security Services, Lester Smith, gave the project overview and how this project was supported by the Overstrand Municipality. He indicated that “the project was implemented over two financial years (2019/20 & 2020/21). Funding for the project came from the Provincial Grant & Insurance Claim, as well as municipal funding. Three vehicles where written off, a water tanker and pumping appliance due to old-age and regular breakdowns and the vehicle which burnt out during Jan 2019 fires and these three vehicles are all 1980's models (1985, 1986 & 1987)”.
Fire Chief Smith concluded that his Department is thankful to the Provincial Government for the funding and the Overstrand Municipality for support during the procurement process of the vehicles.