Three firefighters have been confirmed dead in the high-rise Bank of Lisbon building that earlier caught fire in the Johannesburg CBD.

The Bank of Lisbon building is being used by two Gauteng government departments.

Forensic experts are on the scene to determine the exact cause of the blaze.

National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) says five of its members who work at the building were suspended earlier for raising safety issues.

Nehawu’s Gracia Rikhotso says their members have been raising these issues for years.

“They were suspended for over a year but subsequently we got them re-instated. But the issues did not stop. We met with management several times to raise the issue of the building; it came to our attention that the building does not have the certificate of occupancy which declares the building safe,” says  Rikhotso.