“Now we have smoke detectors and now we can even be alerted when there is a fire at somebody else’s place. It’s very satisfying and makes you feel a bit more safe in your home.”
The last major fire to have broken out in the area occurred in October last year, which saw approximately 40 families being affected, but ever since, the area has been plagued by smaller fires.
Another resident who was happy to receive the smoke detector was Allan Fredericks, a 56-year-old welder living in his three-bedroom house with his three children and wife.
“It just feels safer knowing there is something to help you fight the fire and save as many things as you can,” he said.
He explained that many times, it is “too late to respond” and families have to rush out of their homes with nothing.
“The saddest part is watching that family, especially a hardworking family, stand and watch their home go up in flames. They are basically watching all the hard work go up in smoke. But with the detectors, it alerts you early enough and gives the people enough time to fight the fire or escape and save whatever you can,” Mr Fredericks said.
The HIDA area was divided into 10 grids of 50 households and the City’s teams began installing the alarms, which created plenty of excitement in the area. This alarm will sound and wake occupants of a bungalow or structure, and enable immediate action to be taken by the resident and neighbours.
The City’s fire and rescue services spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse, said since the beginning of the year, there have been nine informal structure fire incidents in the area.
“There is always a risk of fire, whether in informal settlements or formal residential areas. Like many other risks to community health and safety, fire prevention requires collective effort. The City works continuously to increase its level of education and awareness in communities,” Mr Carelse said.
“The smoke alarms act as an early warning detection system for fires. This device will make it possible for people to hear if there is a fire in a structure and either extinguish it or call for assistance. Furthermore, the noise the device emits will wake up the occupiers of the structure or their neighbours and alert them to the danger,” Mr Carelse explained.
Ward councillor, Roberto Quintas, said the smoke from these fires ran the risk of “rendering persons unconscious due to smoke inhalation”.
“This can not only potentially prove fatal, but will also delay response time to small blazes and result in larger blazes affecting more households. The fires plague our informal settlements and backyarders, which tend to occur in the early hours of the morning, when families are asleep,” Mr Quintas said.
The City also took the time out to hand out Flood-Wise pamphlets, providing recipients with useful and important information and contact details focused on flood safety and relief.
“A huge vote of thanks must be given to the donors who made this possible, and the volunteers who have given of their time to assist in Hout Bay,” Mr Quintas said, also thanking the Peace and Mediation Forum representatives, who assisted in the community facilitation alongside the City’s disaster risk management team.
“It was a privilege to be present, thank volunteers individually and personally, and introduce the concept and roll out to community members. Moments like these see the caring and safe city in action, where business, individuals and government come together to make process possible, together,” he added.
To report any fires, contact the City’s fire and rescue services on the emergency number 021 480 7700 or dial 107 from a landline.