ERIC Mncube believes God wanted him to serve his community and become a firefighter.

The 48-year-old from Joburg said he was working as a waiter when a friend told him about a course that would enable him to get a job with Emergency Management Services.

After completing the Basic Ambulance Assistance course, Eric then applied for employment.

“Growing up, I hated hospitals. I suffered blackouts whenever I saw sick people lying in hospital beds,” he said.

During his studies, Eric was exposed to books with illustrated images of injuries and decomposing bodies. He said that made his fear disappear.

“In my line of work, I’ve come across horrific incidents, including bodies that were discovered after decomposition. The smell is terrible – more than any dead animal, but God wanted me to be here,” he said.

In 2014, Eric was promoted to the rank of platoon commander, and he’s now stationed at Turffontein Fire Station. When Mzansi was hit by Covid-19 last year, Eric feared that he would die.

“I thought it would be impossible to avoid getting infected. I feared people would die like flies, including me and my family,” he told Daily Sun.

Earlier this year, Eric was vaccinated but his wife couldn’t get the jab as she was breastfeeding. She ended up contracting the virus along with their sons – aged 18 and eight – last month. “My wife, who is a nurse, was the one who encouraged me to register for the vaccine.

“I’m grateful that although she couldn’t take it, she recovered along with the children,” he said.

“At work, my team wanted me to lead. They wanted me to be the first to take the jab and without hesitation. I did so. I was proud to see so many of them registering.

“We have lost so many of our colleagues to this deadly virus and I don’t wish to see us losing more.”

Eric encouraged people to stay safe and register for vaccination.

“I also hated wearing a mask, but it was the right thing to do.

“Let us all take safety precautions to fight the virus,” he said.