Juliet Crew - South Africa’s first all-female firefighting team

The Juliet Crew is South Africa’s first all-female firefighting team. Together with various brave firefighting squads, this team of trailblazing women played a major role in fighting the devastating and destructive Cape Town fire along the slopes of Table Mountain that broke out on 18 April 2021.

The Juliet Crew

Juliet Crew - South Africa’s first all-female firefighting team
Photo credit: NCC Environmental Services

The Cape Town based Juliet Crew was established in 2019. The All-Woman Wildland Firefighting Project is the brainchild of Dean Ferreira, Managing Director of NCC Environmental Services. In partnership with Chrysalis Academy, the Consulate General of the United States in Cape Town, and the Department of Community Safety in the Western Cape, the NCC Environmental Services embarked on an incredible journey to empower and uplift a group of women by training and employing them as wildland firefighters.

The All-Woman Wildland Firefighting Project was established with the intention to address the grave under representation of women in this sector while simultaneously providing life changing opportunities to vulnerable youth.

The Juliet Crew firefighting unit comprises mostly of young adults from at-risk communities and women from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and areas in and around Cape Town. Many of these women are the sole breadwinners for their families. Most of the crew members are from Khayelitsha, with others from Eerste River, Mfuleni, Macassar, Lavender Hill and Bonteheuwel. These areas are renowned for their poverty, crime, and violence.

In my community, we deal with a lot of gang violence, teenage pregnancy, youth unemployment and a high rate of poverty. Being part of this team has not only taken me away from my daily life, it has given me more drive for my future.”

– Sharne Martiz (Firefighter in the Juliet Crew)

This dynamic team is led by superintendent Kylie Paul. As the fearless leader of the Juliet Crew firefighting team, she is incredibly proud of their growth and progress, stating that “In a very short period of time, the women went from shy and quiet, to proud and confident”.

Support the Juliet Crew

Juliet Crew - South Africa’s first all-female firefighting team
Photo credit: NCC Environmental Services

While the NCC Environmental Services are supporting the Juliet Crew, they are not currently contracted. Funds are required to keep this remarkable project and life-altering initiative sustainable. Although the Juliet Crew has received incredible support thus far, the crew is currently self-funded and relies heavily on donations from the public and other entities.

As an all-women crew, there remains one large logistical obstacle – The crew needs a home. The Juliet Crew are temporarily based at the Vergelegen NCC FireBase. However, for the crew to remain strong and viable for future female firefighters, they need a stable solution. Without a permanent base to call their home, the Juliet Crew will have to travel in and out daily with all their equipment whenever and wherever their firefighting services are required. This not only demands a great deal of travel from the crew members, but poses a huge safety risk to the women as they are both exhausted and vulnerable when travelling home from fighting a fire.

If you would like to support the Juliet Crew or make a donation, please visit their official fundraiser page – Every single contribution is greatly appreciated.

For more information on these exceptional women or to follow and support their journey, you can follow the Juliet Crew on Instagram @julietcrew or on Facebook.

Article sources:

  • NCC Group | NCC Environmental Services | Available at: https://ncc-group.co.za/juliet-crew-picture-gallery/
  • Daily Maverick | Coleman, B. (2021). ‘Sobering thought: How wine fuels all-female firefighting crew’, Daily Maverick, 26 February. Available at: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-02-26-how-wine-fuels-a-swartland-all-woman-firefighting-crew/#:~:text=Juliet%20Crew%20was%20established%20in,government%2Dfunded%2C%20job%2Dcreation
  • Sowetan LIVE | Vuk’uzenzele, G. (2020). ‘All-woman firefighting team makes history’, Sowetan LIVE, 25 March. Available at: https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/sebenza-live/2020-03-25-all-woman-firefighting-team-makes-history/