In a bid to stop shack fires in the city, the City of Joburg has been distributing smoke detectors across informal settlements.

This past weekend, the city’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) distributed 50 detectors at the Mbhele Section in Zandspruit, north of Johannesburg.

“The smoke alarm systems can detect smoke in less than 15 seconds. This does not only help to quickly raise the alarm during a fire hazard, but it also lessens the level of smoke inhalation, resulting in reduced fire injuries and fatalities,” the city explained.

The City’s aim is to have detectors installed in all 189 informal settlements within its jurisdiction, providing more than 3 000 of them in vulnerable communities over the next three years.

Over 1 000 have been installed so far in informal settlements and 148 old age homes.

“The biggest killer in a home fire is smoke when people are asleep and cannot wake up from smoke inhalation,” said  Johannesburg EMS Spokesman Robert Mulaudzi. “If a home fire does occur, the toxic smoke can cause the occupants to go into an even deeper sleep, until breathing stops altogether.”

The 50 Mbhele households which had smoke detectors installed were also trained by EMS officers in basic fire-fighting and first aid and drafted into the Community Emergency Response Team.

“This initiative is part of the EMS’s commitment to building communities that are resilient to disasters, and fire and medical emergencies,” Mulaudzi said.

[Source – City of Joburg, Image – CC liz west]