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Cynthia Maqungu, Mom and Reservist Fire Fighter


I cannot imagine how it must feel to see your family and home in danger – I, honestly, hope I NEVER witness such an event! There are people, however, who see this thing happening daily to families and there are people who put their own lives at risk to assist, help and / or save families and their homes. It takes a special type of person to do this and Centrum Guardian is taking this opportunity to acknowledge these brave individuals and share their stories. Keep reading to find out more about on of the Centrum Guardians, Cynthia Maqungu below.

“There are very few things more important than having a safe place to stay. However, for many shack dwellers, their homes are places to die due to fires that regularly destroy their lives, homes and belongings. Numerous reports of shack fires punctuate our newspapers and radio shows. “ –NGO Pulse

The number of shack fires that plague South African townships in a year is shocking, especially since they mostly affects the urban poor. Fires are more often then not caused by electrical faults, open flames, hot surfaces or unattended candles.  Should a fire erupt in your home, would you know exactly what to do? Luckily for us, we have emergency and rescue personnel who are well-trained and jump into action at a moment’s notice. It takes so much endurance to participate in a rescue mission. Tanya Kovarsky spent six hours with the City of Joburg’s fire and rescue team and judging from her post, it was quite the experience as you can imagine. Watch Tanya speak about her experience here.

Individuals like Cynthia Maqungu, a Reservist Fire Fighter for Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality Emergency Services, highlight the need for a project like the Centrum Guardian Campaign. She was able to crawl into a burning shack with no self-contained breathing apparatus to save three lives. She then worked quickly and mobilised community members into initiating a bucket brigade to the douse the flames that had engulfed the small shack. The nearest tap was 15 metres away, the damage prevented to other shacks is immeasurable. After putting out the fire, Cynthia left the scene to go and wait for the arrival of the fire truck. Informal settlements don’t have street names or house numbers.  This small but crucial act proves just how qualified and deserving Cynthia is to be one of the finalists for the Centrum Guardian campaign 2015.

As a result of their close proximity to each other, informal settlement fires are extremely dangerous. A neighbouring shack can succumb to transmitted heat in a matter of seconds because shacks are made from highly flammable materials that burn quickly and easily.

As if her heroic act was not enough, Cynthia Maqungu works with the PIER (Public Information, Education and Relations) group. This group is trained, like Cynthia to assist in informal settlement emergencies. She used this opportunity to educate the community on fire safety, as well as the importance of having sand or water readily available in their homes in the event of a fire. Aren’t we glad that such dedicated individuals tirelessly give so much of themselves?  I know I am.

Vote for Cynthia Maqungu by watching her story on the Centrum Guardians website www.centrumguardians.com.



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