Putting out the flames in the community

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Putting out the flames in the community

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Phoenix Durban

Heroes, Simiso Gumede and Sagren Naidoo, who offer their courage and self-sacrifice.

While a hero is commonly known for wearing a cape and a mask, the Phoenix community has heroes and heroines attired in different uniforms that go with badges, hats and epaulets.
These heroes offer their courage, expertise and self-sacrifice to the neighbourhood.
Simiso ‘Mr Grinder’ Gumede, a Stanger-born citizen, moved to KwaMashu after high school, to pursue a career in the fire department.
The 28-year-old was one of the 76 out of 23,000 other applicants that were recruited into the fire department yearly intake.
Nine years later, Gumede has picked up several accolades under his belt, including being a three-time grinder champion and representing South Africa in Germany for being the toughest fire fighter alive, in a competition.
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‘Mr Grinder’ as he is often referred to by his colleagues encourages pupils to stay in school and not refrain from taking on challenging subjects such as Mathematics and Physical Science.

“A vivid background in Mathematics and Physical Science is vital in our line of work. With putting out a fire, there are certain procedures that have to be followed. One has to know what type of elements a fire has and which elements to use to put it off. With fire that has hydro carbons, one should use a foam tanker machine, which can only be used by one with a good mathematical background,” Gumede said.
Sagren Naidoo, a 49-year-old resident of Phoenix, started his journey in the fire department a little over 28 years ago.
Naidoo describes his job as one he has passion for. “No monetary figure can be put next to the feelings of happiness and joy that I experience when I am in the action of saving people and animals.”
Naidoo embodied the epitome of passion after he spent several weeks in hospital after the scorching flames burned his face. Naidoo laughed as he related the experience.
“I spent weeks in hospital, recovered and returned to the fire department, having more zeal and passion,” Naidoo said.
He counts working with his team being one of the biggest highlights of his career, followed by winning a gold medal in France for an extrication competition in France.
Naidoo urges the public to familiarise themselves with the fire station’s number while not using it for false alarms. “Motorists should also allow us to manoeuvre in traffic, when we are rushing to emergency scenes,” Naidoo said.

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