Published: 11 June 2015
Working on Fire (WoF) teams fought 343 veld and forest fire fighters within the Western Cape Province over the November 2014/May 2015 Summer Fire Season. Ground and aerial support were instrumental in the suppression of 343 fires and limit the areas burnt to 293 937.18 hectares throughout the Western Cape. A total of 54 teams were utilized including aerial support spen-ding 1882.33 flying hours to saving the lives of citizens and protecting the environment. This has been the most difficult fire season in as many years and it had to be extended till the end of May as a result of little rain during May as well as unusually high and dry temperatures.
Working on Fire will be working closely with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Local Municipalities, FPA's and public and private landowners over the next few months to ensure that we assess this past summer fire season and also embark on fire awareness campaigns throughout the province. Currently Working on Fire has over 5,000 beneficiaries in more than 200 bases across South Africa. WoF, an Expanded Public Works Programme supported by the Department of Environmental Affairs, prides itself on its partnerships with many organisations such as Cape Nature; South African National Parks (SANParks); Southern Cape Fire Protection Association (FPA); Overberg District Municipality, Cape Peninsula FPA; Greater Cederberg FPA; Tulbagh/Wolseley FPA; and the City of Cape Town Nature Conservation with who played a vital role during this fire season. “We would like to thank all partners for their support and assistance during this difficult fire season recognised as the worse fire season we have had in seven years. We also remember our brave pilots, Bees Maris and Darrell Rea, and Crew Leader fire fighter, Justan Visagie, who lost their lives while fighting to protect the lives of many.” – Shane Christian, General Manager of the Wes-tern Cape. Out of fire season, base partners such as SANParks and Cape Nature, utilises crews in the integrated fire management programme which includes fire prevention interventions, the cutting of firebreaks, prescribed burns and fire awareness campaigns. Fire fighters too work in local communities helping rural area citizens and school learners to understand fire, and to appreciate the potential benefits of responsible custodianship of their environment. Western Cape Fire awareness teams managed to reach over 16 schools within the April/May 2015 period. With the help of 15 WoF teams, the successful fire awareness campaigns reached over 1500 learners, 45 educators and over 860 community members in over 15 communities within the Southern and Western Cape.
Western Cape Province