International Firefighters’ Day celebrations

At the flaming front: a Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) ground crew demonstrates wildland fire suppression techniques at the International Firefighters Day celebration event at The Braak in Stellenbosch on Saturday.

Stellenbosch Fire and Rescue and Cape Winelands Fire and Rescue hosted the Western Cape International Firefighters’ Day celebrations on Saturday, with a motorcade of over 50 firefighting vehicles through the streets of Stellenbosch, followed by a number of firefighting demonstrations, and an arduous team challenge, all of which took place at The Braak.

Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS), the only participating volunteer firefighting organisation, took part in the motorcade, executed a wildland fire suppression demonstration, and also took part in the team challenge, fielding a mixed team of one woman and four men, the only mixed team to participate.

The VWS team, dubbed the “VWS Hotspots” – Amore van Sittert, Rozario Oliver, Claude Sanders and Rob Doughty – was drawn from all four VWS bases – Jonkershoek, Newlands, South Peninsula and Grabouw – and it placed seventh out of 11 participating teams, with a time of 7:35.02 for the seven stages of the challenge.

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue kindly loaned four sets of bunker gear – the complete personal protective equipment set, including oxygen cylinder, worn by stuctural firefighters – to the VWS team, so that they competed on an equal footing.

The event was well attended, and it afforded the opportunity for the public to get “up close and personal” with the fire and rescue services that play such a vital role in protecting life, structure and the environment.

Norman McFarlane is a volunteer firefighter at the VWS.