In 1994 a group of Pringle Bay residents got together and came to the conclusion that the town was in need of a proper fire team. At that time we only had access to a trailer with very limited water capacity, which was insufficient for the growing town. The team was kicked off by Richard Smeda, a retired fire officer living in Pringle Bay. Very soon afterwards Clayton Francis took over as chief of our volunteer firefighter team, and he still runs the team today.
Initially, the team consisted of permanent residents of Pringle Bay, mainly retirees, as they were available 24/7. The laws have since changed and volunteers are now required to retire from the team at age 60. This has led to younger volunteers from Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay boosting the team. Fortunately, the majority of them work locally and can respond quickly. The team is currently eight-strong of which two people manage the logistics.
The team exists so that it can act as first responder and first line of defence while awaiting the fire trucks from Kleinmond, or from Hermanus or City of Cape Town for fires raging over a big area. This local rapid response capability leads to less damage to property and vegetation.
The team undergoes training provided by the permanent staff of Hermanus (under the auspices of the Operational Officer) but most of the team’s training is conducted in-house, using our own equipment to build confidence in the use thereof. At the moment we have a 4x4 Unimog fire truck with a water capacity of 2200 litres. The veld fires are tackled using 25mm by 30m hoses, and for house fires we use 38/45mm by 30m hoses. Plans are afoot to source a second firefighting vehicle as backup.
The team’s priority is to protect Pringle Bay and surrounding areas in the event of a fire, but it has also responded to fires as far afield as Hermanus, Hawston, Kleinmond and Gansbaai, when called upon.
The Pringle Bay Firefighters have been very busy the last couple of years with the increase in wild fires, such as the Pringle Bay February 2017 and the devastating Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay fires of January 2019.
FIRE STATION MUSEUM
Clayton has accepted the long-term loan of a magnificent collection of historic international fire memorabilia and, in addition to its normal function, has turned the fire station into a museum. Blank walls are now lined with display cabinets of old uniforms, helmets, badges and miscellaneous historic equipment and photo albums. Retired volunteer Vic Brooker has produced a wonderful bound album of the history of fires in Pringle Bay and a proud photographic record of our Volunteer Firefighting team. Arrangements will be made to showcase these to the public.