Mangaung Metro has a jewel in its midst which is highly respected by its peers in the country, namely the Mangaung Fire and Rescue College in Bayswater. Ten Namibian Airforce firefighters are currently attending a firefighter course at this college.
Chief of the Mangaung Fire Department, Braam van Zyl, said the Mangaung Fire and Rescue College can train professional firefighters for government or the private sector. The college is mostly used for skills development of the Metro’s own firefighters and those of other Free State towns.
Short courses are also presented from time to time for the private sector. Van Zyl said the Namibian firefighters are on a four-month course. “It is an international accredited course all firefighters must attend,” said Van Zyl. He said the college is privileged to be able to give training in structural fires and aviation fire and rescue.
Van Zyl said the Namibian students focus specifically on aviation firefighting and rescue in partnership with the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) at the Bram Fischer International Airport. He said the Bram Fischer Airport has the benefit that it is one of a few in the country shared by military aircraft and a civilian operation.
“We can give students exposure in civilian and military aspects of aviation firefighting and rescue.”
The airport in Mangaung has two fire brigades, one on the civilian side and one on the military side of the grounds. Fire and rescue procedures for civilian and military planes are different.
Van Zyl said the students started their course in March this year and it will end in August. Bloemfontein Courant had the opportunity to attend part of the Namibian students’ training at the Acsa training yard at the Bram Fischer Airport. The students were given practical exercises on how to put out a fire on an aircraft.
The most common fires aviation firefighters will face are burning aircraft engines, landing gear and wheels. – André Grobler