From fire fighter to Crew Leader and now an environmentalist in the making
“I am a person who likes to learn things from other people and understand different cultures and I am also a person with self-confidence who believes in putting words into action”, said HAT Type 2 Crew Leader Howard Mathebula who hails from a small village called Cottondale in Mpumalanga.
Howard was speaking to WoFire News and telling his story on how he believes that the Working on Fire programme should be a stepping stone to achieve greater heights in life.
Howard completed his Matric in 2003 and furthered his education at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria studying Law but he didn’t complete his studies due to financial difficulties.
Before he joined WoF, Howard was working at the Komatiland Forestry where he first gained experience in environmental work and he then joined WoF in 2012 as a fire fighter in the WoF project (IFMS). After two months Howard was given an opportunity to become a First Aider level 3 and then a Type 2 Crew Leader in January 2013.
Here are some of Howard’s achievements in 2014: Participated in the Environmental Training conducted by WESSA , Environmental Weed Management course, preliminary incident investigation, prescribe burning course, basic computer course, rope access technician level 1 and the pest control operator licence (PCO ). A PCO is a licence issued by the Department of Agricultural, Forestry & Fisheries. This licence authorises him to store agriculture remedies (Herbicides) and to control invasive alien plants.
This year Howard is responsible for Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) to emerging weeds in the Durban areas supporting SANBI’s initiative and Brackern Fern Research “We should be grateful to have the job that we have because someone outside there is living without a job, food and shelter”, he said.
“In the next five years I see myself being a project manager in Working on Fire. To all other fire fighters I’d like to leave you with these words the sky is the limit.