City flexes new firefighting muscle

Mayco member JP Smith with Epping station commander Mark van Jaarsveld.
The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service displayed the new Rosenbauer Metz Turntable Ladder L56 fire trucks. Video: Karen Watkins

The municipality has four new fire trucks with longer ladders to cope with fires and other emergencies in a densifying Cape Town with more high-rise buildings. 

The fire department showed off the Rosenbauer Metz Turntable Ladder L56 fire trucks at the Epping training academy for firefighters, last Thursday.

The trucks cost R17 million each and are part of an R80 million order of 99 fire-fighting and rescue vehicles the City took delivery of in the previous financial year. 

Fire chief Ian Schnetler said three of the four new fire tenders would be assigned to the Goodwood, Roeland Street and Strand fire brigades, while the fourth would go to either Milnerton or Lakeside.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the City’s Fire and Rescue Service would get 34 new vehicles this financial year, including foam and water tankers and rescue vehicles.

Michael von der Heyda, director of Rosenbauer SA, which built the fire trucks said they served a dual rescue and firefighting function.

The ladders use a lift system to rescue 18 people at a time from a 22-storey building within 12 minutes. They also have gear and a cherry-picker cage necessary to fight fires in high-rise buildings.

 Ladders on the old fire trucks have a maximum reach of 37m.

The vehicles can drop water from a height, and Mr Smith said that would be an advantage in squatter camps where it could be difficult for a fire truck to navigate narrow alleys to reach a fire.

Mr Smith said the City’s densification plans would lead to the development of more high-rises where the new equipment would come in handy.