Government issues veld fire  warning

Government issues veld fire warning

25 November 2010

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South Africa —  A department of Agriculture warning on fire danger ratings has been welcomed by the government funded Working on Fire programme.
The warning, from the Early Warning Unit of the Agricultural Disaster Risk Management  section of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, warns of  high veld fire danger in the Western Cape and Karoo.
 “ A high veld fire danger rating expected in the West Coast District and Cape Metropole and over the Central Karoo today (Thursday) .”
Working on Fire Programme Manager for ground operations. Fred  Mokgope said the warning from the department was welcome. “The more that can be done to prevent runaway wild fires the better,” he said.
Working on Fire is a national government funded initiative implemented by the FFA Group, by means of which people, particularly from rural areas are recruited and trained as veld fire fighters.
WoF will deploy additional ground based  wild fire fighting “Hot Shot” teams to the Western Cape this month to work in partnership with other groupings to prevent and fight wild fire. The FFA will also base a number of fire fighting aircraft in the Cape from December 01, to support the ground based crews. WoF works in partnership with groupings such as Cape Nature, SANparks and local municipalities to prevent and fight runaway wild fires.

In their warning issued the Department of Agriculture offer the following tips relating to wild fire.
What to do when veldfire condition is forecast:
* Prohibitions of fires in the open air during periods of high fire hazard,
and the establishment of fire control committees.
 * To control fires, an alarm system, fire fighting teams, and beaters must be
 organized in advance and plans prepared.
What to do during Veldfire:
* Livestock should be moved out of grazing land to unbarred land/ploughed
 field for safety.
 * Water is generally not available in sufficient quantities or at adequate
 pressure for the control of major fires; however, sand or other loose mineral
soil material can be an effective method of control.
Following are a number of concerns and recommendations:
* Provinces should always ensure that the firebreaks are in place. An owner of the land who is obliged to prepare and maintain a firebreak must ensure that, with due regard to the weather, climate, terrain and vegetation of the area, the following is taken care of in terms of installing the firebreaks (chapter 4 of National Veld and Forest Fire Act NO. 101 of 1998):
* A firebreak has to be wide enough and long enough to have a reasonable chance of preventing a veld fire from spreading to or from neighboring land.
* A firebreak does not cause soil erosion and
* A firebreak is reasonably free of inflammable material capable of carrying a veld fire across it.
* Farming communities should establish fire protection associations to prevent and control veld fires as required by the National Veld and Forest Fire Act (Act No. 101 of 1998).
* The Fire Brigade Services Act provides for the establishment, co-ordination and standardisations of fire brigade services. Local authorities, that is, municipalities, are empowered to establish and maintain a fire brigade service, intended to be employed for the following purposes:
a)     Preventing the outbreak or spread of a fire.

b)     Fighting or extinguishing a fire.

c)    The protection of life or property against a fire or other threatening danger.

d)     The rescue of life or property from a fire or other danger
* Improved communication among members about, for example, fire hazard conditions. The outcome sought is to achieve better integration of community preparedness, prevention, suppression and recovery strategies as key elements of veld fire management.

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