Act of God ruled out in #KnysnaFires

The Knysna Municipal Fire Chief, Clinton , Manager, Kam Chetty and Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies presented the cause of the devastating fires that spread through the area on 7 June to various members of the media today, 14 August.

Manuel presented the vast scientific evidence to the media and saying: “Looking at the evidence scientifically, evidence points to the origin of the fire as being on a clearing site in Elandskraal. Specific patterns of the burn scars on a farm, shows a definite V pattern that indicates with a high degree of certainty the site where the fire started. Just below this scar we have found evidence of man-made fire.

Read the full article…

Eight people without a home

SAESI 8 People without a Home

Yesterday 30 March 2017 a house fire broke out in Burgershoop, Krugersdorp West where firefighters did what they do best. It is believed that an electrical failure was the cause of the fire.
Firefighters from the West Rand District Municipality were on the scene to blaze the raging fires and were assisted by the Community Police Forum (CPF) Sector 5.

Big thanks to Tracey from the Cradle of Hope and Bethany House Trust for sponsoring Mr Edward Masendeke and Ms Mary Banda(owners of the house that burned down) and their family with vouchers to stay at the Tower of Life Shelter for the night of the incident as well as the 31st of March. The Community Police Forum (CPF) Sector 5 assisted with transport to get the victims to the Tower of Life Shelter.

The Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) commends our firefighters for their selfless work and dedication, Stefan Lourens, Schalk Terblanche, Kefiloe Ramphele and Direk Morweng who is a volunteer firefighter at the West Rand District Municipality. The team fought for nearly two hours to save not only the building but what little possessions the family of eight had.

Article by Lulu Ferreira: SAESI

Important Judgment – Potgieter v University of Stellenbosch


This judgment sounds a warning to owners (also municipalities) of pre 1970 built buildings that have not introduced the best practices relating to fire protection introduced by  the National Building Regulations

Potgieter sued the University (US) for damages arising out of permanent injuries he sustained in 2007 when, as a 21 year old student at the Eendrag men’s hostel, he had to escape a fire through the window of his top floor room.

It is common cause that Eendrag had no fire stops (or fire walls), or hose reels, and smoke detectors were only installed in the roof void of pitched roofs. The absence of fire stops in the common roof void of Eendrag posed a real and imminent fire risk to the residents of the top floor

Potgieter claimed that the US –

  • was obliged to ensure that proper and reasonable measures and procedures were in place, and were implemented, for the safety of students in its hostels,
  • was aware of the fire risk
  • failed to introduce adequate precautionary steps, especially in the light of other fires at US buildings in previous years
  • failed and/or neglected to take reasonable and proper cognisance of the development of best building practices
  • failed in numerous respects to implement its own rules in respect of risk management

The US –

  • admitted that it was under a legal duty to take and implement adequate and reasonable safety measures to protect occupants of its hostels from the risk of fire and its consequences
  • alleged that it took such steps and by adopting a risk management policy under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

In the alternative, the US relied on an indemnity clause contained in Potgieter’s enrolment application to exempt it from any liability. It also pleaded contributory negligence on the part of Potgieter.

Statutory framework

At the time Eendrag was built in 1966 building regulations were prescribed by municipal by-laws. Although the later 1970 Standard Building Regulations and the 1987 National Building Regulations prescribed the installation of fire stops in roof voids for buildings such as Eendrag, they did not apply retrospectively. The National Building Regulations however constituted best building practice.

Legal principles

In order to succeed in his claim Potgieter had to show that the US was guilty of conduct (in the form of an omission) which was negligent, wrongful and the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. At par 18 – 30 the court explains the legal principles against which the relevant evidence had to be assessed.


The US made certain important concessions –

(1)  it would be vicariously liable for negligent acts and/or omissions of those responsible for the implementation of its risk management system at Eendrag;

(2)  after the fire in the roof void and uppermost floor at another hostel in 1983 it reasonably foresaw that such roof fires were a hazard that could lead to loss of life, limb and property; and

(3)  at all relevant times it had the financial resources, or access to such resources, to install fire stops, hose reels and smoke detectors in communal areas below ceiling at Eendrag.

The US also abandoned any reliance on contributory negligence

It was also not in dispute –

  • that given its realisation of the risk, the US took steps towards making Eendrag (and other buildings) safe, to prevent roof fires and to manage risk, by installing smoke detectors in the roof void coupled to an alarm.
  • that the fire was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The central issue for determination was whether or not the steps taken by the defendant in relation to Eendrag were reasonable.

After considering the evidence the court held that Potgieter discharged the onus resting upon him to show that, on a balance of probabilities, the US was negligent.

[146] …… A diligens paterfamilias in the position of the defendant would have foreseen, after the Huis Ten Bosch fire, that its failure to take reasonable steps to guard against a similar occurrence would cause injury to students in its hostels. A diligens paterfamilias in the position of the defendant would also have taken reasonable steps to guard against such an occurrence. The steps taken by the defendant were not reasonable and fell far short of the reasonableness standard, both in relation to the installation of fire safety measures at Eendrag and in the implementation of its own risk management policy, to which it merely paid lip service.

[147] The evidence established that…… the defendant’s failure to take      reasonable steps caused the plaintiff injuries.

[148] The defendant’s conduct was also wrongful

The court also found that there was no merit in this defence based on the indemnity clause.

Potgieter’s claim succeeded.

New conference format drives interaction

By: Ilana Koegelenberg – Assistant Editor

Last year things were done a little bit differently at the SAESI 2015 conference, where each of the sessions were followed by breakaway groups, culminating in a final outcomes ‘game plan’On Thursday and Friday, 5-6 November 2015, the Black Eagle conference venue at Nasrec, Johannesburg sat full of industry delegates who came from all over the country (some even from beyond our borders) to discuss the three pillars identified for building resilient communities. The proceedings were well attended and everyone had their turn to contribute to the conversation.“The traditional way where speakers are presenting after one another with delegates only allowed a few minutes for questions afterwards, is not conducive to achieving any objective,” explained Moshema Mosia, City of Ekurhuleni’s head of Disaster and Emergency Management Services (EMS) and conference speaker. The topical theme around which the conference were structured, was a very relevant issue. “The theme of the conference, ‘Building resilient communities’, constitutes an emerging trend in the industry and is something currently on the dashboard of the industry worldwide.”Risk management
The first pillar the delegate team ‘tackled’ was ‘risk management’. Schalk Lubbe got the conversation started with his presentation, suggesting a National Plan for Risk Management that is supported by all industry role players and partners.

During the breakaway sessions, delegates were divided into two groups – one led by Marius Atterbury, Eskom’s senior fire and emergency risk management advisor, and the other by Peter May, senior advisor of fire risk and emergency management for Eskom Holdings, to discuss the topic at hand. Both groups agreed that a national risk management plan was definitely a good idea and worth working towards. “Informal settlements are here to stay and this risk requires an intervention to mitigate the loss of life,” – just one of the comments from the breakaway session.

The session groups also looked at whose responsibility it would be to make such a plan happen and the conclusion? “We are all responsible for making this work!”

Various other great suggestions came from the sessions as the leaders (Atterbury and May) left no stone unturned in making sure everyone got to have their say (even the ones that were sometimes unwilling). From training on building materials to teach informal settlements how to mitigate the risk of fires, to suggestions of an early alarm system and better spacing between structures – delegates had a lot of ideas.

In the end, the groups agreed that although a National Management Plan should be developed and cascaded down throughout the municipalities, they shouldn’t have to wait for an official plan to get started!

The second pillar was investigated on 5 November, with Paul Motsepe, the West Rand District Municipality’s PIER officer, leading the way with his presentation on the Public Information Education and Relations (PIER) Working Group. He investigated the four pillars of proactive approach for community education individually (Public, Information, Education and Relation). Motsepe also looked at key tasks that have to be undertaken to up education in the industry.

In the education breakaway session, groups had to discuss the current state of education. Both groups agreed that the education initiative is not currently community-driven and led, but driven and led by the respective local authorities, specifically the PIER group. However, there is a need for respectful consultation and inclusivity. Delegates stressed the importance of communities being addressed in ways that respects their beliefs and cultures. There is a problem with delivering what is thought to be needed versus what is actually needed.

It was noted that the PIER programme is not utilised throughout the country and therefor a mandate should be instituted from national government to ensure that the programme remains relevant as the vehicle to assist in the reduction or elimination of the identified risks. Currently there is a lack of sustainability.

Groups suggested that partnerships between all relevant stakeholders are vital for programmes such as PIER to succeed and that inter-departmental communication must be improved and resources distributed better to enhance education throughout.

Security and resilience
On the second day of the conference (Friday, 6 November), a noticeable amount of delegates have ‘disappeared’ but the remaining group took on the final pillar of ‘security and resilience’ with the same amount of vigour as the day before, determined to come up with a viable strategy.

The session was kicked off by Mosia, presenting a talk on ‘International Standardisation in Security and Resilience’. He looked at the role of standards and stressed the importance clarity in standards.

A breakaway session followed to look at who should all be involved in the making of standards and how these can be used to further security and resilience nationally. Both groups agreed that SAESI could be playing a more prominent role (many suggested a leading role) with regards to making EMS standards and a problem was identified with municipalities not doing what SAESI suggests.

Conference outcomes
The following three broad outcomes were identified at the conclusion of the conference on 6 November:

  • There is a definite need for a National Fire Risk Management Plan;
  • PIER is an essential aspect; and
  • SAESI should have an increased presence in standardisation.

“I believe these outcomes are achievable and that SAESI should establish a 2015 conference workgroup to work through the feedback submitted and develop an action list with responsible people and target dates,” suggested May. “Regular feedback should be given to the delegates on progress made as per the action list with consolidated feedback on all the issues raised prior to the 2017 Conference.”

An overwhelming positive response
The new format of breakaway sessions were well-received and participation was at an all-time high. “The breakaway sessions brought about deeper discussions and analysis of the topics to come out with what the conference resolves upon under specific topics,” said Mosia. “This newly-introduced process added value to the delegates who are the experts in the field on all the topics. They became participants on the paper being presented rather than being recipients. They set their own course!”

“The conference topics was relevant and seemed to have found a lasting impression in the minds of the delegates that attended the various topical speakers and breakaway sessions,” agreed May. “The new approach for the conference was well-received and attended, the delegates actively participated in the various breakaway sessions and it offered each delegate the opportunity to have their voice heard. The atmosphere created was conducive for constructive discussion irrespective of rank with specific resolutions flowing from these sessions.”

And the delegates? What did they think? “I saw a well-organised event with a lot of information to absorb,” commented Mandla Kunene, fire officer of Engen for Health, Safety, Environment and Quality.

“I’m of the opinion that this year’s format was very balanced, entertaining and informative,” agreed Angelo Aplon, Station Commander at Overstrand Fire & Rescue. “The presentations were brilliant, and the presenters experts in their fields. This was my first year, and I would like to see a greater representation of all the role players in the industry.”

For a full gallery of conference and other memorable moments visit Fire Online.

A conference to remember

What took place at during the official opening ceremony of SAESI 2015?

Day four of the biggest emergency management services (EMS) event in Africa, SAESI 2015, saw the opening of the 30th biennial conference, where delegates and speakers alike gathered to discuss ways in which to build resilient communities in South Africa.On Wednesday, 4 November, the SAESI 2015 conference began with an opening ceremony which saw the past president, Ofentse Masibi, handover his official presidential chain to the new president, Dino Padayachee.Also handed out at the opening ceremony where long-service awards, sports awards, and student awards to various high-achieving SAESI members. The full list of winners is as follows:What took place at during the official opening ceremony of SAESI 2015Fellow awards

• M Ramlall
• N Birjalal

Life Membership award

• Col. F Oberholzer
• M Te Water

NJL Swanepoel award

• JD Croucamp
• MP Mosia

40 Year Continued Membership awards

• AE Cloete
• MW Pretorius
• VM Smith
• DH Wilds

30 Year Continued Membership awards

• ON Abdul
• S Abrahams
• AK Appolos
• AJ Benson
• FJT Bezuidenhout
• P Brecker
• D Damons
• DF Esau
• J Johnstone
• CB Jones
• PL Jordaan
• D Locker
• DN Naidoo
• M Ohlson
• S Oosthuizen
• S Prinsloo
• TM Ruele
• MJ Sejesho
• D Snyman
• RP Tshabadira
• NF Tsitsi
• CJA Van Der Merwe
• N Williams

20 Year Continued Membership awards

• FM Rametsi
• MS Barendse
• W Herman
• L Hodges
• M Jacobs
• AM Meleni
• JFH Burger
• AL Powrie
• SR Riddle
• L Agulhas
• G Halls
• R Erasmus
• D Hill
• MR Isaacs
• AB Tule
• KL Ngoepe
• FJT Bezuidenhout
• MP Mushwana
• CG Boshoff
• G van den Berg
• BM Senokoane
• MN Masibi
• RG Mokgofa
• AM Dalais
• AP Odendaal
• G Nel
• GR Fouche
• JC Appies
• CJS Emmenis
• MN Mathebule
• OSS Kobue
• J Ahmed
• L Mateki
• NA du Toit
• MR Ngubane
• E Muthwa
• C Pieterse
• CJ van Reenen
• FJ Steyn
• S Lupondo
• H Davy
• W Josias
• GF Burger
• FM Ndlangisa
• L Smith
• W Laufs
• D du Preez

10 Year Continued Membership awards

• JT Hhlalele
• FM Rametsi
• MC Adonis
• MS Barendse
• W Herman
• L Hodges
• M Jacobs
• AM Meleni
• JFH Burger
• AL Powrie
• SR Riddle
• L Agulhas
• G Halls
• R Erasmus
• D Hill
• T Sumner
• D Willemse
• K Grace
• NM Bakano
• JBL Carlse
• EM Rhoda
• N Thomas
• MR Isaacs
• AB Tule
• KL Ngoepe
• FJT Bezuidenhout
• MC Msinge
• A Kuhn
• ME Sesinyi
• NF Lesejane
• ET Moeketsi
• TT Seanego
• MP Mushwana
• CG Boshoff
• TP Khumalo
• MM Puane
• DF Tlou
• G van den Berg
• NF Tsitsi
• BM Senokoane
• MN Masibi
• RG Mokgofa
• ES Nkosi
• KE Mingeni
• AM Dalais
• B Ntsingila
• TSW Mthembu
• S Hoflani
• Z Franks
• GM van der Westhuizen
• SS Shabalala
• AP Odendaal
• G Nel
• GR Fouche
• JC Appies
• CJS Emmenis
• TN Mushupi
• GS Seyffert
• MN Mathebule
• OSS Kobue
• I Ahmed
• D Mlilo
• TE Mkalipi
• PT Sathekge
• MN Mathebule
• ST Mbatha
• ML Mafisa
• L Mateki
• NA du Toit
• MR Ngubane
• E Muthwa
• C Pieterse
• CJ van Reenen
• I Munro
• M Nelani
• GS Badenhorst
• J Runba
• M Stockigt
• S Kiva
• CJ Titus
• BE Roberts

Other awards

• FM Rametsi
• MN Mathebule
• AP Odendaal
• OR Pule
• BK Mokwena
• LG Makuya
• S Merryweather
• PM Khumalo
• SY Mciwa
• NF Morukhu
• S Knoetze
• P de Villiers
• BJ Sekwana
• KD Phaka
• BK Mokwena

Other highlights included the handing over of a cheque for R70 000 to Overstrand Fire, Rescue and Disaster Management, from Rosenbauer, as well as a cheque for Burns 4 Burns for R10 000, also from Rosenbauer.

The conference’s keynote speakers, Stuart Ellis of the Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC), and Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, both gave rousing speeches about the importance of making the most vulnerable citizens of a country resilient and strong. Ellis said, “It was a privilege and a pleasure to attend the SAESI Conference. I was impressed by the combination of conference and other training events, which provided a good opportunity for many people to become involved. The exhibition was impressive and the overall conference experience was very worthwhile.”

After the opening ceremony was concluded, the president opened the exhibition.

For a full gallery of conference and awards visit Fire Online.

After the conference… A message from the board

After the conference, SAESI’s board looks at changes within the Institute and moving into the future.

For nearly two years, a team of dedicated men and woman planned an event known as the Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) 2015 conference, exhibition and training events, with the theme of ‘Building resilient communities’.SAESI 2015 EXCO18
All the excitement built up to Sunday, 1 November 2015 when South Africa’s emergency management services (EMS) personnel set a world record by pulling a 19 tonne, fully-loaded fire truck for 1,5km up a gradient of 2,109%, verified by Power Construction. A fun run/walk followed, and the evening ended with the registration of the teams participating in the different events over the course of the week.

The programmes on Monday and Tuesday were filled with the executive committee (EXCO) members meeting with international delegates. At the EXCO meeting on Tuesday, SAESI’s vice president, Melvin Ramlall, presented the new SAESI working group structure to EXCO members. This structure was unanimously approved by all members present. This means that the seven standing committees of the Institute have been re-aligned into four working groups. These working groups are:

  • The Moderation and Accreditation working group;
  • The Legal, Technical, Research and Development working group;
  • The Events, Media and Marketing working group; and
  • The Administration working group.

All the members of the previous seven standing committees have been absorbed into these working groups and these working groups will be responsible for the execution of SAESI’s day-to-day activities. All the positions within the working groups will be open for elections during the annual general meeting (AGM) to be held in 2017.

The question to be answered is: What does it mean to the members of the Institute, and what benefit does it holds for them?

With a more streamlined structure, decisions can be taken faster. Relevant activities, like marketing, sport events and media, are now coordinated by one working group. If we can use the sport activities of SAESI as an example, we will now have one working group dealing with the organisation of the sport event, the marketing of the event, and handling the media coverage of the event.

The first meeting between the coordinators of these working groups took place on 7-8 December 2015 at the Flamingo Casino. At this meeting, the finer details and working relationship between the working groups were finalised.

With the registration of SAESI as a professional body, we expect to see growth in the Institute as we never experienced before. More than 50% of all firefighters in South Africa, professional and voluntary, are not yet members of the Institute. As SAESI is the only recognised institute for the EMS in southern Africa, we need to have all firefighters and other emergency services personnel as members.

SA’s toughest EMS personnel pull out all the stops at SAESI 2015

The 30th biennial Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) 2015 conference, exhibition and training events is Africa’s biggest emergency management services (EMS) event and, in true South African style, the training events saw teams from all over the country come together to compete, to learn, and to show the industry what they’ve got!The prize giving, which took place on 6 November, the final day of SAESI 2015, saw top honours awarded to the teams and individuals that performed best. Below are the results of the SA Emergency Care Firefighter rescue challenge, the MSA high angle, rope access and hoist system challenge, the Holmatro vehicle extrication challenge, and the STAT EMS challenge.

Holmatro Extrication Challenge:

1 st Place Over all TNT Joburg
2nd Place Over all Destroyers
3rd Place Over all Mangaung TNT


Best Medic TNT Joburg
Best Technical Team Destroyers
Best Incident Commander TNT Joburg

STAT EMS Challenge:


1 st Place Over all Cape Town TumourNaters #1
2nd Place Over all Amabhubesi


1 st Place Over all Metro EMS
2nd Place Over all Cape Town Tumour-Naters

MSA High Angle Challenge:

1 st Place Over all Knotty Boys
2nd Place Over all NYC
3rd Place Over all DUT
Best Medic Knotty Boys
Best Rigger Rigger 2 WRDM #1
Best Incident Commander Knotty Boys

SA Emergency Care Scott Safety Firefighter Rescue (Teams)

SAEC Teams

SA Emergency Care Scott safety Firefighter Rescue Challenge Individual

No: Name: Time:
1 Emile Conrad 2:14
2 Ryan Abrahams 2:15
3 Arnold Van Lill 2:24
4 Patrick Magqibisa 2:29
5 Conzy perrinse 2:30
6 Morne Moolman 2:31
7 Bertus Vermeulen 2:35
8 Lucan Wentzel 2:36
9 Henco Swart 2:37
10 Tertius Engelbrecht 2:39
10 Frans Engelbrecht 2:39
11 Thomas Mudzuli 2:44
12 Edwin Lottering 2:45
13 Nico Gouws 2:46
14 Richard Flowerday 2:47
14 Simiso Gumede 2:47
15 Daniel Fortuin 2:51
16 Xolane Zwane 2:56
17 Dean Stoffels 2:57
18 Jwara Philani 2:59
18 Jaco Stander 2:59
19 Eugene Williams 3:00
20 Duane Grantham 3:04
20 Cele Sizwe 3:04
21 Themba Shandu 3:08
22 Martin Mogatle 3:15
22 Lorenzo Johannes 3:15
23 Mduduzi Vilane 3:28
24 Gerhard Schlebush 3:29
25 Jabulani Ngoveni 3:32
26 Sharlton Cloete 3:33
27 Marco Van Vuuren 3:40
28 Anthony Prinsloo 3:44
29 Nhlanhla Mohhamme 3:45
30 Ikaheng Monmakgotla Joseph 3:50
31 Russel Hoskins 3:52
32 Glen Bellingham 3:55
33 Chey McDonald 3:56
34 Theobold Tshilidzi 4:03
35 Phaahla Sebake 4:04
36 Victor Ngwane 4:16
37 Joyce Bhaza 5:20
38 Andrew Mamafha 5:29
39 Enie Molatsedi 5:46


SA Emergency care Scott Safety Firefighter Rescue Challenge Individual (Seniors)

No: Name: Time:
1 Rudi Van Der Berg 2:27
2 Freddie Morukhu 2:53
2 Thabami Mgumbeza 2:53
3 Delani Nkontwana 3:18
4 Branville Abrahams 3:30
5 Justin Carolissen 3:36
6 Sam Zitha 3:37
7 Kasim Bayisa 3:44
8 Russel Van Deventer 3:48
9 Lucky Myeza 3:50
10 Andrew Holmes 4:03
11 Shakes Jele 4:45
12 Zwedi Khanuka 4:59
13 Joseph Mphilo 5:13
14 Petrus Motswiri 6:04
15 Lindokuhle Zungu 6:36

SAESI 2015: going out with a bang!

The final day of Africa’s biggest emergency management services (EMS) event, SAESI 2015, dawned bright and clear, with training event teams giving it their all one last time.

On Friday, 6 November, the final day of SAESI’S 30th biennial conference, exhibition and training events, teams geared up for the final day of challenges and then attended the prize-giving, during which awards were given to the top three teams in each event, the assessors, and various other winners.

SAESI 004assessors TeamCPT SAESI2015

The week’s biggest winners were Cape Town – various teams took home prizes in many different categories. A full list of winners will be published in the Jan/Feb edition of F.I.R.E Africa.


School children from the surrounding areas were invited to learn about fire safety in an event organised by PIER (Public information, education, and relations). The kids were treated to demonstrations and talks on safety, as well as a walkthrough the exhibition, where exhibitors explained to them how the fire engines, machinery, equipment, and supplies worked.


A full account of the week’s events, including a full list of prize winners, will be published in the Jan/Feb edition of F.I.R.E Africa.