Siyahlala gets buckets and safety tips to fight fires

Milnerton fire station and Stellenbosch University visited Siyahlala informal settlement in Dunoon on Saturday morning to hand out 500 buckets and pamphlets with fire-safety tips. Professor Richard Walls, left, the head of the university’s fire engineering research unit, said the university and Milnerton fire station had been doing research on fire safety in Siyahlala for the past seven years. He is pictured with Milnerton fire station commander Mark Smith.
Professor Walls said the provincial Department of Human Settlements funded a university project to develop a fire engineering guideline for informal settlements. “We decided to start simply by handing over 20-litre buckets with the correct phone number. Often people call the police or other numbers, and a 10-minute delay in call-out can lead to 50 more homes burning down.”
Milnerton fire station commander Mark Smith said the buckets were a small gesture but often it could take something as simple as a bucket of water to stop a fire from spreading.
Siyahlala is one of the biggest informal settlements in Dunoon and is separated into four sections.
Siyahlala residents came out in their numbers. One resident, Luthando Baliso, said he was encouraged that the community was willing to support the firefighters. “We need to work together because our area is known to have some fires and it can be devastating because our shacks are so close to each other. I just hope initiatives like this can carry on.”