Supervisor Blamed For Death Of BCC Firefighter At NUST
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) blames poor supervisory duties for the death firefighter who was burnt while fighting a veld fire at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).
The local authority has also partially attributed the accident to the late firefighter – Fanyana Dick Shuluma – for failure to properly use some of the firefighting protection equipment.
The firefighter, who is survived by a wife, two sons and a daughter, died two days after the incident at Mater Dei Hospital.
Retired Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer Mr Richard Peterson said it was impossible for a firefighter of Shuluma’s calibre who served for nearly a quarter of a century to have been burnt by a veld fire to the extent of dying, according to The Sunday News.
According to findings of the internal inquiry, it was established that the Fire Brigade crew, among other issues, failed to use provided radio communication equipment among themselves. Reads the report in part:
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The committee noted that the supervisor, Mr Manob Zhou did not execute his duties conscientiously. He worked on an assumption of the trainee that the late Mr Shuluma had joined the other group and withdrew one from the deceased’s crew without consultation. Upon realising that one employee was missing, procedurally the supervisor was supposed to suspend operations until the missing employee was accounted for.
Non-use of the face visor by the deceased contributed to the severity of the injuries on face. Failure by the brigade crew to use the provided radio communication equipment also hindered effective distant communication among the teams.
As a result, the deceased was unable to signal distress early for rescue. The strength and the unanticipated shift in the direction of the wind may have impaired the employee’s judgement of the fire direction and also the presence of tall dry grass in the area of operation fuelled the fire. Furthermore, the thicket may also have been a hindrance to the employee’s safe escape from the fire.
The report further notes that:
The firefighters were divided into three groups with three members each.
Shuluma was assigned to command the third group which was to do controlled burning moving towards the road leading to NUST’s second gate. The other members of his team were Ms Buhlebethu Ngwenya, a trainee firefighter and Mr Khohlwani Moyo, a firefighter.
Mr Moyo led, followed by Ngwenya while Shuluma was at the tail end of the formation.
A few minutes later Mr Monab Zhou summoned Moyo to leave Shuluma’s team and come and assist him.
Zhou later decided to leave Moyo to go and monitor the progress of the other teams.
On his way, he met trainee firefighter Buhlebenkosi Ngwenya and enquired about the whereabouts of Shuluma to which Ngwenya said they assumed Shuluma had joined the other team.
The team was later informed by the NUST security personnel that they had heard screams for help which upon investigation turned out to be Shuluma.