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Fighting fire with firemen

The Dainfern Golf Estate has become home to South Africa’s very first private firefighting service, as the non-profit organisation Fire Ops South Africa was officially launched on 19 January inside the complex. The launch was hosted at the estate’s pavilion and was a chance for residents to become familiar with the service, which not only will install firefighters named the ‘RedCaps’ into the estate, but will also allow residents to access Fidelity Security and medical assistance from SLA paramedics with greater ease using a specially designed app.

“For now we will be based inside the Dainfern Golf and Residential Estate,” explained Wynand Engelbrecht, the driving force behind Fire Ops SA and a former fire chief with decades of experience. “Then as time goes on we would like to expand outwards.”

According to Engelbrecht, the RedCaps will be made up of seven professional firefighters and also about 20 volunteer firefighters from the local community. He believes that the service will be available to Dainfern residents from the first week of February, and will operate out of the old Dainfern Estate gatehouse.

During the launch, community members were invited to inspect a number of safety vehicles that will be used in the work including a large red fire engine, security patrol vehicles and an ambulance.

But perhaps most exciting of all was when a Halo Aviation emergency medical helicopter circled the event grounds twice, before landing in the middle of the pavilion field to applause from onlookers.

The Knysna and District Pipe Band was also on hand to perform, and a braai was held to celebrate the occasion.

“We will have access to medical air transport should it ever be needed in an emergency,” explained Harvey Grohmann, battalion chief of the RedCaps.

During the event, Engelbrecht asked firefighters and instructors to swear an oath which included the line ‘I solemnly declare that I am willing to lay down my life for another human being, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation or colour in the execution of my tasks as a firefighter’.

Once the official ceremony was over, families were encouraged to enjoy themselves, and some of the RedCaps even got dressed in their firefighting kit and showed children around the big red fire engine.

“Being a firefighter is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m very excited about this initiative,” Koch told the Fourways Review. “I don’t know if everyone can say that they smile the entire drive to work each day, but we firefighters do.”

Dirkie Koch, a firefighter of 14 years and one of the RedCaps who will be serving the area, said he wanted to accept his current position because he wanted to make sure that community members were getting the service and safety that they deserved.

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