Pretoria - In an effort to reduce the number of fires during the winter period, the Tshwane Community Safety Department launched a Basic Emergency Safety and Fire Education (BESAFE) centre in Soshanguve, Kopanong Section.
The centre, situated at the Council's Komiki Motubatse Hall, comprises of a tin container that has been turned into a model house.
The house is used to demonstrate how various household appliances should be handled in order that unnecessary fires could be avoided.
These include gas stoves, electrical appliances and paraffin stoves.
"Most of the fires in informal settlement are often caused by poor handling of paraffin stoves and lamps, gas canisters that burst, and faulty electrical appliances, especially illegal connections," the department said.
The centre is part of the Fire Brigade Service's Public Information, Education and Relations (PIER) programme.
Through this programme the Fire Brigade Services embarks on educational and public awareness campaigns to educate communities about the dangers of fire, how to avoid disasters, and how to handle fires.
"A number of community members, especially youth, have already received basic fire fighting training in order that they may be the first to respond to and assist their community whenever there are fires and before professional fire fighters can arrive on the scenes," the department said.
Speaking at the event the head of Community Safety in the city, Commissioner Mpho Mmutle, said the PIER programme should become one of the flagship projects for his department.
"For me this is the best intervention model that we should sustain. If we can get this right, and ensure that it occupies centre-stage alongside some of our critical projects, I can then assure the public that we will have very few fires in our communities," Mr Mmutle said.
The city's Chief Fire Officer, Shemane Tsotetsi, promised that more BESAFE centres will be rolled out in many other communities.
"Our aim is to have a BESAFE centre in all areas that may need this type of service. Our observation is that in other municipalities where they this kind of a centre the number of fires get reduced drastically," said Mr Tsotetsi.
The department's political head, the Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for Community Safety, Councillor Dikeledi Lehobye, said that she was proud of the work that her department is doing, especially in relation to its commitment to work with poor communities.
"Today is an important day for me. This is your centre. Please make sure that you use it, and that it is an integral part of your safety measures," said Ms Lehobye.
Those attending were taught about fire safety through interactive dramas. Simulated fire scenes were put out by trained community members and professional fire fighters.
The centre will operate daily during working hours. It will initially be manned by employees from the Fire Brigade services. Members of the community will take over its operations after receiving training.