“I am honoured by receiving an award for 43 years of service to the City of Cape Town,” says Hout Bay Fire Services station commander, Stefan Erickson.

Erickson was among the 99 staff members commended by the City of Cape Town for their long service at the Department of Safety and Security. Recipients included members of the City’s Fire and Rescue Services, Traffic Services, Metro Police and Law Enforcement.

Erickson started his career as a firefighter in 1975 at Cape Town Fire Brigade. He has never looked back and he still has no regrets.

He says he has seen a lot of transformation over the years but his love for the job was never threatened.

He says the brigade “was much smaller then, consisting of only six fire stations: Roeland Street Central, Sea Point, Salt River, Epping, Wynberg and Lakeside”.

“As the years went by, we expanded to include the greater Cape Town and surrounds up to and including Atlantis on the West Coast and the Strand and Gordon’s Bay on the False Bay Coast. With growth also came inclusion of all race groups and later also female firefighters. The Fire Service is an ongoing evolving workforce, and accepting and embracing change has been the only way forward for me.”

He says he is humbled by the recognition.

“It is good to know that my small contribution to the delivery of an essential service to the City is acknowledged and appreciated. If I had a choice, I would do it all over again – firefighting is in my blood.”

With his decades of experience, Erickson says he has started mentoring and coaching new staff and has continued to build positive relationships with staff, which has kept him going up to now. He says the job is not for the fainthearted as there is a lot at stake. He says one has to be dedicated and flexible.

“Fire and Rescue Services are not about the men and women becoming heroes but being able to deal with the accidents presented and the seriousness of life and death. It is a dedication in assisting and dealing with the harsh realities of life. It is an adrenaline-driven occupation where no two 24-hours shifts on duty are ever the same. The unpredictability is somewhat exciting as compared to other occupations­.”

Erickson says he has always balanced family time and work while also embraced his love for travelling South Africa, gardening and motorcycling. Support from his family has kept him going and his youngest son ended up following in Erickson’s footsteps and works in Fire Services.