By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK About 70 emergency management personnel were last Friday awarded certificates by the City of Windhoek as a token of appreciation for their noble services. The Windhoek emergency system covers at least 35 000 residents. In an interview with New Era, the emergency officer responsible for Administration and Logistics Raymond Kapia disclosed that about three cases of fire are reported every week in informal settlements in the capital. Candles and paraffin stoves usually are the main causes of the fires. Veld-fires are similarly common especially around this time of the year when those living in the bush make fire to keep themselves warm and later leave them unattended. However, building and erven fires are rare. City of Windhoek councillor Linnea Shaetonhodi on behalf of city mayor Matheus Shikongo congratulated the recipients, adding that theirs is a high risk, at times dangerous profession. Only strong, healthy and brave people can survive in this field. Given that, trained people are needed to put out fires in order to save lives and property. “Due to its complex nature, emergency management, particularly fire-fighting, is primarily a team operation. Individual skills, expert knowledge and attitudes of emergency personnel are fundamental to successful handling of all stages of the emergency,” she stated. The awards fell under four categories. The miscellaneous award honoured the act of heroism and outstanding service rendered during the disaster and emergency situations by members of the emergency management division. Best Control Room Attendant award was given to a good natured and calm attendant for excellence in operating a control room during emergencies while Best Overall Student award recognised the best overall achievements by students who participated in the training programmes at the Windhoek Emergency Training Centre with specific focus on discipline, attendance, leadership and overall impression. This award was given to Dirk Cloete who received a trophy and a cash prize of N$1 000. Fire-fighter of the Year award was conferred on the conscientious, competent and disciplined fire-fighter who dutifully committed himself to the promotion of the image of the City of Windhoek through its emergency management unit and was scooped by Damien Makgone who was given a trophy and a cash amount of N$1 500. Chief Executive Officer of the City of Windhoek Niilo Taapopi said it was only through training that the field would shape the service for Vision 2030 in a more focused and meaningful way. He added that fire has killed many people at home, in their beds, including the elderly. Other victims have been those living in not so well-off areas and those with alcohol and drug problems. In an effort to improve or modernise the way the responsible division responds to such calls, the division, according to Taapopi, should seek to prioritize the training of recruits to enable them to perform basic tasks. “Modernisation of the fire and rescue service should be the only way forward if we are to make a real difference in our impact in improving community safety,” he said.
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