South Africa’s first all-female firefighting team recently took part in their first major operation when they helped battle a blaze in Noordhoek, Western Cape. Over 90% of the crew members come from female-headed households in Phillipi, Retreat, Mfuleni, Khayelitsha, Capricorn Park and Macassar, all of which have a legacy of poverty and violence.
Charl Steenkamp, Brand manager for NCC added that the team performed exceptionally well.“I witnessed them arriving on the scene, fully geared up and ready. They were immediately deployed and began operations with efficiency. This was their first time in a major operation, with helicopters flying and dumping water all around us and major burning happening not far from them”.
Dean Ferreira, Managing Director of NCC Environmental Services has 30 years of experience in wildfire management and has always wanted to offer women firefighters specialist training and their own quarters so that they could build self-belief in their capabilities and shatter the glass ceiling created by male firefighters.
In partnership with Chrysalis Academy, a youth development organization formed by the Western Cape Provincial Government, NCC opened applications for a firefighting programme for females between the ages of 18 and 25. Fifteen candidates were selected to become part of the Juliet Crew.
Sharne Maritz, Juliet Crew firefighter says that being part of the team has given her motivation for the future. “In my community, we deal with a lot of gang violence, teenage pregnancy, youth unemployment and a high rate of poverty. Being part of this team has not only taken me away from my daily life, but it has also given me more drive for my future, she said.”