The South African Weather Service has issued a warning of extremely high fire danger conditions in the Northern Cape and on the West Coast.
City of Cape Town Disaster Management spokesperson, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, says temperatures have increased into the mid 30’s in some areas.Â
“Disaster management teams have been placed on high alert to deal with issues where people suffer from dehydration, including provincial ambulance services, and we expect a huge influx to the beaches, so we have (also) brought in additional life guards and staff,” he says.
Solomons-Johannes said they had a high presence on Sunday evening with law enforcement and officers working until sunset and until all the people are off the beaches in order to ensure their safety.
The City of Cape Town has employed an additional 120 fire-fighters to deal with fires this summer. Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith says the extra crews will improve response times.
“We have also started our new fire reservist service. Seventy-five fire-fighting reservists have been trained and they will be volunteering at least 24 hours a month during the next few months,” added Smith.
Smith says that they have also deployed new specialised 4 x 4 compressed air foam tankers, particularly in informal settlement areas, so that they can get to awkward and hard to access spots quicker.
What to do when veldfire conditions are 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.
Here are some 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 standardizations 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:
- Preventing the outbreak or spread of a fire
- Fighting or extinguishing a fire
- The protection of life or property against a fire or other threatening danger.
- 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.