Well done to thirty-two graduate firefighters from across the province!

“The objective of the Cape Winelands Firefighting Training programme goes beyond imparting skills; it is about shaping lives and making a profound impact on our communities,” stated the Executive Mayor of the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Ald (Dr) Elna von Schlicht, during the 2023 graduation ceremony held at the CWDM’s Firefighter Training Academy in Stellenbosch.

“This year alone, our training academy has trained 220 students and the Cape Winelands District Municipality approved R80 million for Fire Services in this financial year,” the Mayor continued.

The Spring Class of 2023 included 32 firefighters who successfully completed the Firefighter 1 course, of which 28 completed the additional Hazmat Awareness and Operations courses. These dedicated firefighters represented the South African Navy, the Cape Winelands District, and the municipalities of Langeberg, Swartland, Beaufort West, Bergrivier, Stellenbosch, Cederberg and the Overberg District, and successfully completed an intense 12-week training programme.

Notably, three of the graduates were female students from Langeberg, Stellenbosch and Swartland municipalities. “It was tough, tougher than I expected but standing here today, it was worth it. You should always just stay resilient,” said Jamie Maart, female firefighter from Stellenbosch Municipality.

The training programme covered both theoretical and practical aspects, with the physical component often proving to be the most demanding. Despite being an exceptional group of new firefighters, a few students stood out and received awards as the top students of the course. Dylan Williams emerged as the best theoretical student in Hazmat Operations, while Niven Langdown earned the title of best practical student for the same course. In the Firefighter 1 course, Sean Gordon secured the title of best theoretical student, and Nivaan Rambaran was named the best practical student. Randall Sophe’s commendable efforts in the Hazmat Awareness course were also recognised. Furthermore, Jamie Maart received recognition as the most disciplined student, Jacean Klaase as the most improved student, and Nivaan Rambaran as the overall student of the course.

In appreciation of the Cape Winelands Fire Services Academy and Mr Heinrich Louw, Regional Commander: Training, Nivaan Rambaran spoke with much hope for his future after the graduation.
“I have gained great knowledge and skills during this experience and I am grateful, especially for the guidance received from all instructors. I look forward to implementing all I have learned and making them proud.”

The ceremony featured an impressive motorcade parade, goosebump-worthy drill demonstrations and the official christening of the new incident command (IC) bus.

The CWDM proudly welcomed its state-of-the-art, custom-designed mobile IC bus in July 2023. Employees were given the opportunity to name the vehicle and after much deliberation she was officially christened “Lady Sentinel” during the passing-out parade. The term sentinel is defined as guardian or protector, symbolising someone who watches over and stands guard. This perfectly encapsulates the function of the IC bus. The Lady Sentinel will enable the CWDM, its partners and other stakeholders to assemble in an easily accessible vehicle to efficiently predict, plan and initiate mitigation actions in response to major incidents that threaten the community and property.

The Mayor left the graduates with these words, “To the Spring Class of 2023, congratulations on your achievement. Your bravery and dedication to service are commendable. As you step into the roles of firefighters, know that you play a crucial part in ensuring the safety and resilience of our communities.”

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