The COVID19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down, imagine being in service for more than 34 years and watching a pandemic threaten the basic norms of humanity. But even with these many changes occurring, still serving diligently and with passion.
William Welkom, Station Manager of the Makhanda Fire Department, who has worked as a firefighter for 34 years, 5 months says “the pandemic has indeed changed our approach on how we do our work. As an essential service department, one had to ensure that we still render a service efficiently and effectively when dealing with incidents within the community, whilst also trying to stay safe.”
They had to close the department twice due to two positive cases but even when they had followed protocol and closed down the station, he says “that services were still rendered during that two day closure period.”
During this pandemic, the main fuel when everything seems dull and not worth risking is passion. When experiencing such days, Mr Welkom says “My passion for my work, knowing that I am able to serve and protect the community, as I have done over the past 34 years. I was born and raised in this town keeps me going.”
He says unlike some of his colleagues who have young children who might not truly understand the intensity and strain of going to work while fearing for your life. He says “I am fortunate that my family members are all adults and we regularly discuss the challenges we all might be facing during this pandemic. My family has been very supportive and they understand the importance of my work. I’m constantly reminded to sanitise, wear a mask and keep social distancing where ever I go!.”
The Fire Chief appeals to the community “not to start unnecessary fires that could lead to loss of lives and property. Practice fire safety at home and stay safe during this pandemic.”
We wish to acknowledge and thank Mr William Welkom for his remarkable service on the front line, its inspiring to see the passion he has for his work after more than 34 years of service.