“Firefighting isn’t for everyone. People who are seriously afraid of heights or confined spaces, who don’t function well in a crisis, or who in general would rather not introduce elements of danger into their lives, are unlikely to be attracted to the job.
But for those who do not see these aspects of the job as deterrents, firefighting is an exciting, ever-changing, highly rewarding occupation. Most firefighters enjoy the warmth of camaraderie among the crew, the challenge of bringing physical skills and mental abilities to play in what for others is an emergency, and the opportunity to provide critical, life-saving services in a moment of need.”
These are the crucial and interesting facts Uniq Magazine have learnt from the courageous and passionate firefighter Abdool Xolile.
For such a long time firefighting has been catergorised as the ‘male’s job” only. Women considering the fire service have been discouraged if all the firefighters they know or see are men. It may seem that, even if the door isn’t officially closed to women, no woman could ever be enough like a male firefighter to be really good at the job.
Born in Inanda, North of Durban and being brought up by a grandmother, Xolile has transformed such perceptions by being the best fire fighter she can be. Having been part of firefighting career for almost 12 years now, she has declared her secrete of surviving and performing the best she could. Her success secrete was to acquire a better understanding that there are many ways to be a good firefighter, and they don’t necessarily require you to be male or just like a man. Some of the attributes that Xolile acquires includes being, honest and dependable; dedicated to her work and being a good communicator.
Becoming a firefighter means a lifelong commitment to physical fitness, and the earlier you make this commitment, the better. Get involved in sports teams, regular workouts, and other activities that will develop your strength and fitness and give you confidence in physically demanding situations. Your training routine should involve a weightlifting program as well as aerobic activities.
Being born as a girl her grandmother and father coerced her to study nursing so that she can take over as a breadwinner after her grandmother. Things did not go as they wished due to lack of funds to enable her to enrol as a nurse. According to the best firefighter in the City of Durban, Xolile took that predicament as a blessing in disguise as she wouldn’t have explored the male-dominated career as a firefighter that she enjoys the most compared to any other possible career she would have taken by that time.
Becoming a firefighter at eThekwini Fire in 2006, was the beginning of the good days for Xolile’s family as she managed to build her family a house which was witnessed by her supportive mother who passed away just few years of Xolile’s breakthrough.
“When my mother passed on, I had already started building my family a house and I am glad she saw it before God could take her. I remember her encouraging words of wisdom she always voiced to me. She would say to me, ” Maxoli mntanami ngiyazi wena uzokwenza ongithembise kona futhi ngiyakholelwa kuwena”. I could hear her words even today and they keep me going and wanting to do more for myself and my family.
Since Xolile joined the eThekwini Fire she has been enjoying the benefits of being a dedicated and a hardworking employee. She started as a junior fire fighter and became a senior fire fighter, then a leading fire fighter. In 2017, she was appointed as a Station Commander and now a candidate for a Divisional Commander position.
Xolile says the most thrilling and fulfilling part of her job is to save someone’s business or property but mostly someone’s life. Her work ethics involves team effort, ability to think critically under pressure to avoid putting her team in danger.
With Xolile being a candidate of Divisional Commander post is not the end of her dream but her dream is to be more than just a Commander as she is studying towards a Diploma in Fire Technology which is her current focus, which will be a ladder for her dream position which is to become a Regional Commander.
Her life motto “Always reach for the top, because the bottom is crowded and a crowd will always make you fail in life”, has boosted her ambitions to stay on top. Advising the youth that wishes to pursue such rare careers, she said youth should never make a mistake of living for the now.
“Young people you are the future of our country, thus you must never make a mistake of living for the now, always think about the future. The fact that your parents are not able to give you everything in life does not mean you must turn to drug substance abuse and crime, rise above it and empower yourself”. She concluded.