Firefighting’s the Same Everywhere

Brandi Grahamstown firefighters from NewsHouse on Vimeo.

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The thought of a fire station in the middle of a city where people live in houses made of mud and sticks could seem kind of odd to some and quite absurd to others. However, in the middle of Grahamstown, South Africa, sits a fire station that has over 11 fire vehicles, one phone operator, four firemen at any give time, and a platoon commander.

It may be hard to believe that a small rural city in Africa could have such a developed fire station. However, this station operates with some of the same protocol as fire stations that exist in the United States. Platoon Commander Robert Brooks has served the fire station in Grahamstown for more than 18 years. He is glad to see the changes that the station has made in the last 10 years.

“We’ve got more fire fighters, we’ve got more staff on duty, and now in any case we can deal with any type of call.”

Many of the changes at the fire station are part of a larger effort to advance the firefighting capacities of this station. “We’ve got shack fires, building fires, dwelling fires, flat fires and bush fires,” says Platoon Commander Brooks. The effort to improve operations at the fire station has improved the station’s ability to respond to those calls.

While the Grahamstown fire station gets most of its material from textbooks in the United States, many of the firefighters, including Brooks, have never been to the United States to watch the firefighters in action. Witnessing American firefighters in action is a dream that Brooks hopes someday will become reality.

“It’s always my desire when you look at films overseas to go to America just to experience those things … just to see how those people operate. Before I die, that’s my desire.”