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Discovery Insure launches fire brigade in Joburg

Discovery Insure this week announced it has partnered with Advanced Emergency Management Services (Advanced EMS) to create a fire brigade to protect its clients in Johannesburg.

The Fire Force project brings firefighting services as a “value-added” benefit primarily to clients whose vehicle, home or business may be impacted by fire, Discovery Insure said. It will also be able to assist the city in emergencies.

The service will be available to clients across most of the Johannesburg metropolitan area.

A fire occurs in Johannesburg every six hours, according to data from the Fire Protection Association of South Africa.

The Advanced EMS group is made of constituent companies, including Medi Response, Rural Metro and Fire Ops.

Fire Ops is one of the private firefighting operations that have been established in response to the inadequate or non-existent fire-fighting services across the country.

According to Moneyweb, the City of Joburg metro is facing a crisis with fire engines.

It has a fleet of 12 fire engines and two tankers operating across its 30 fire stations. However, the number available on any given day is far lower than a dozen, because many of these old vehicles are constantly undergoing repairs.

In the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital last year, the city had to rely on fire trucks from Ekurhuleni and the City of Tshwane.

Fire Force has added two fully equipped fire engines to Advanced EMS and Fire Ops’ infrastructure, as well as “a number” of rapid response support vehicles.

“Once an emergency call is received in our operations control centre, we will initially dispatch a rapid intervention vehicle that is fitted with an ultra-high-pressure (UHP) pump system, while mobilising additional resources. The UHP unit can be connected to a garden hose and allows a very effective first attack against house fires, car fires and other smaller fires,” said Hadley Shapiro, the managing director of Advanced EMS.

Prevention is essential

Anton Ossip, the chief executive of Discovery Insure, said: “The safety of our clients and the communities in which they live is crucial to the ethos of Discovery Insure. However, implementing important fire prevention strategies at home and within your place of work is equally important. Simple actions, such as installing smoke detectors, regularly checking electrical connections and the servicing of fire extinguishers, can literally save a life.

“I am confident that Fire Force will make a visible and impactful difference in the weeks and months ahead, but I also urge everyone to do their own fire-safety checks to make our families and homes as fire-proof as possible.”

Ossip said people don’t believe that fires affect them. However, “there have been three major fires across our client base in the past 10 days. On Thursday, a fire in Douglasdale claimed a life.”

He said the most common causes of residential fires were electrical faults, gas heaters and mistakes such as knocking over a lamp. He said building errors, such as faulty chimney design, were also responsible for fires.

“Nine in 10 fires are caused by human error, and we have seen a dramatic increase in house fires.”

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